We waited through dry and dusty years
and prayed the only way we knew—
like tithing, throwing hard-bought hay

to the gods on the ground everyday.
Our muttered mantra clunked along
like an old machine, inhaling pauses,

exhaling groans until it came to turn
the earth around with a covering
of iridescent green, teasing the dead

and dying oak trees—like us or like
the cows we raised and had to sell—
with rain and one more promise.

New life lands on the open beam
that holds the roof and sings
in the sudden rain—a black and gold

Oriole on the edge of its Southwest
range—a happy song delivered quickly.
A sign in this downpour, an omen

I am to remember when season’s over
and the grass turns blond and brittle—or
just a promise of weather never normal.


7 responses to “PROMISE

  1. You guys in California know about drought. Here in Australia it’s a part of life, so we know what it’s like there. But is it just dry that’s killing the oak or is it a disease or insect that’s hitting it because it’s stressed? (Nice poem tho’)
    PS You won’t be able to read my first blog because it’s blocked for reasons I can’t explain but you might like my others.
    or First one is stories and other one is a history of Australia.


    • A survivor of the combined drought of 1976 & ’77, I thought the worst was behind me. But I don’t remember dead mistletoe hanging in what appears to be dead oak trees at Christmas. Historically here, the oaks haven’t had issues with insects or disease. I have seen oaks die from too much mistletoe, or come back, or go into dormancy, after a year of unusual heat or stress, but in this case I suspect the parasitic mistletoe has died because its host has died. Time will tell.

      Thanks for your comment. I’ll check your blog for life down under.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As soon as I saw the image it thought, “life and death”. Then I read and confirmed my fear. In our hearts an acorn sits dormant, preparing to spring forth a new generation.


    • I’ve been watching these trees, about a half-dozen over a hundred years old, all summer long, thinking they had died due to lack of moisture. Now the mistletoe has turned. No acorns to speak of for the last two years, but demanding less, they are many young ones coming. What I see in this photo is a measure of what we’ve been through and plenty of firewood for years to come.


  3. Love the poem, very sad about the trees.


  4. Beautiful poem from someone who really watches nature very closely. Love it.


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