The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Saturday, Cold Fire, Washington Arboretum

Our Valley
By Philip Levine

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.


We had rain overnight and woke up to very overcast skies, so it was just as well I had a lot of work to get done on Friday. Paul was working from home, so he watched Voyager's Kes-focused "Cold Fire" with me before he went off to his corner to do his work and I went off to my corner to write my review (warning: it's not a rave). I had a bit of a pre-storm headache in the afternoon, but we took a walk to see bunnies before the actual lightning, thunder, and pouring rain arrived just as we left to go to dinner.

My parents' longtime friends the Leavitts are visiting to attend the Bar Mitzvah of a grandchild of mutual longtime friends the Goldmans (they all used to live in the same apartment complex when their oldest sons and myself were all babies) so we got to eat with them as well as my parents, which was really nice since I haven't seen them in a couple of years. Unfortunately, most of the baseball did not go the way I was hoping. Some photos from the Washington State Arboretum in Seattle, where fall arrives earlier than here:


  • Poem for Wednesday and McCrillis Azaleas

    Rhododendron By Matthew Dickman I'm walking my infant son through a stand of rhododendrons. It feels like we are walking through a cloud of…

  • Greetings from SeaTac

    Back in Seattle area! Had pizza with my family and good friend from elementary school (well, she had tuna on matzah as she is more observant than my…

  • Greetings from Potomac

    Back from huge fabulous Passover meal at my parents' house with Adam and Haley, after I got to spend the day with the latter two because Paul had to…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded