Two trees came down across the neighbor’s lawn last night
with the rain, kissing the gutters along the roof, knocking over
patio chairs, but everyone inside, just safe. We are uphill
from the flooding, where the beachfront parade of restaurants
were washed away and the wharf split right into two, a gap
like a missing tooth, downed trees bobbing in the surf like apples.
We walked down to see the damage between storms, even
the governor was there. If anyone wants to make a driftwood
sculpture, now is the time. The businesses are all sandbagged,
the creek still eerily high. There is another barrage of storms
expected tonight, and tomorrow, and next weekend, more rain than
we’ve seen in forty years and the golden hills are a luscious green.
There is a small grove of redwood trees outside my bedroom
window, and just the one that leans slightly towards our unit, that
I keep my eye to every time I venture outside or glance through the
windowpane. The winds might as well have picked up the house
and transported it to Kansas last night, for all their screaming. I
slept on my daughter’s bedroom floor, just to be safe.
With so much pandemic practice, we’re rather good at hunkering
down and postponing the things we’re meant to do, saving them
for tomorrow. We wear disappointment like a badge, roll up our
sleeves when the water seeps through the floorboards, leaving
damp spots in the carpets, brainstorm ways to work from home,
look to our children and reassure them that yes, this too shall pass.
We’re also practiced at checking in on our neighbors, whether
fire or flood, lending a hand down the road when the trees do fall,
or wash up on the shore, or fall to ash, and there are those that wade
through the swell to salvage the stranded. For every flood there is
a flood of volunteers to mop up the debris, to lift up the drenched,
to hold someone, and the super bloom is going to be epic this year.
Thoughts and Prayers
Let me offer you my thoughts and prayers,
because they do nothing for the children
who were gunned down in their classroom
yesterday. I’ve lost count, but it’s March and
it’s already in the hundreds, the mass shootings.
You lock up your beloved gun, you display it,
you wear it proudly on a belt to the grocery
store, just for show, just because you can.
You’re worried about your rights, that someone
might require some paperwork of you, that a
a favorite weapon of war may not be readily
available should you suddenly covet it and
care to add it to your collection of arms.
Yesterday it was three nine-year old’s and three
of their teachers. Last week, a mall shooting, a
grocery store, a church, someone’s workplace,
a family massacre because dad got angry and was
discouraged by life, decided to end his and a few.
Tomorrow it will be someone else’s child,
someone else’s mother, and our children will
grow up knowing that your right to wear your
gun is greater than the value of their life; not
elsewhere, of course, but here, in the land
of the free, where guns are a God-given right
like water, where the constitution is battered
and pummeled into shape until we can interpret
it as we will, as the right to bear arms for any
purpose, without check, without reason.
My child knows the drill: run, hide, fight,
hide under your desk and wait, listen, as
if the square bit of wood above will shelter
you, keep you safe from flying shards of metal.
But you have my prayers:
That your gun remains safely stowed, locked up,
that the safety remains in place if your child
stumbles upon it hidden in a drawer, in a
glove compartment, that it isn’t your child
who ends up shooting his brother — an accident,
of course — that it isn’t you or your father who
decides to suddenly raise that God-given right
in a sullen moment of rage and take a life:
your life, a loved one’s, a stranger’s,
just because he can.
What kind of palm tree
is this – with its fan of
They flutter and dance
in the wind like a peacock’s
unfolded tail. It might as
well be strutting, this tree
with its eager wave, its
quivering dance. What loved
one could it be beckoning?
No bird would willingly land
on its rail-thin stems, its sharp
edges, its needled spikes.
Does it dance, like the peacock,
just to pronounce its gaudy
beauty to the wary observer?