Like California – Poem

The Ning community This Life Lived is dedicated through weekly practice assignments to heightening awareness and attention. In searching for poems to fit both This Life Lived and mareymercy’s current topic of attention, I came across this one from my manuscript:

Like California

According to reports, vast areas of the Golden State
are sinking, grating against another age, worrying a world
already weary with fault and fracture.

Once on a day’s hike off Skyline Boulevard I felt it
happening, when I ventured past the designated trail
onto unprotected acres, and a snake confronted me

from a deep ridge in the high weeds, rattling
like a rusty cog choking into motion. For a moment
I was so still I disappeared, willed into nonexistence.

It was not unpleasant, or unfamiliar, as if our meeting
were prearranged, its conclusion already known,
and although I believed I would be set free, something within

began unsettling, as if parts of me would never reappear,
small certainties returned to earth like scattered stones –
just like California, shifting back into the sea, one

sacrifice at a time, each release a small restructuring,
simple as a shell’s ear, dissolving into all our fatal histories,
our gentle rumbling towards destruction.

-originally published in Albatross Magazine

12 thoughts on “Like California – Poem

  1. This poem is a really amazing way to talk about attention and worry and loss and discovery and, well, living. Your writing is like, I want to say chiseled, but it’s something else, too: familiar but not. The unexplored familiar.

    • Who knows! I never thought about this poem being about attention, but when I looked it over last night I could see that it was. So, I paid attention to it in a different way.

  2. I am visiting from TLL and really enjoyed your poem and the focus of attention. Not only did I like the content of your poem, but I also liked how the structure of your poem (shifts in stanzas) really fit the content. Nice work.

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