After ten dry years, the drought-killed,

dead-standing oaks have shed their limbs

in piles, like clothes at their feet—some


centuries claiming space, offering summer

shade to cows, acorns to a host of hungry

mouths, hidden homes to hawks and lesser


feathered flocks—and have begun to tip

over as the rain-soaked earth lets go

of their decomposing roots to rest


on fences or across the dirt tracks

between us and our children grazing

the ridgetops: like emerald thighs, toes


reaching for the flats along the creek.

Despite the disassembled skeletons

of a generation passing that litters


and melts into the ground, lush canyon

and slope come alive to welcome and beckon

to embrace me for the first time


in a decade—and I overwhelmed, submissive

having spent my penance on unknown sins

I will confess just to prolong this moment.



8 responses to “COMING ALIVE

  1. in their own slow time they will be the dirt that feeds the grass and the newer oaks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucky enough to live in a place for a long time where most oaks outlive us, I’m old old enough to have seen the transformation happen, turn to dirt right before my eyes.


  2. My heart is broken. I loved the Oaks with a full heart all my life there and everywhere else. None to replace I suppose. Will you plant acorns with fences around them as another measure of hope for the future? I know it would take years past your lifetime and mine…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The acorns seem to find places to root between logs and rocks without our help during good years and bad, centuries of adaptation to thrive on this ground. Here on Dry Creek is some fenced mitigation ground for the Lake Kaweah Enlargement Project where the Blue Oaks, planted like an orchard, haven’t fared all that well–they’re young yet and don’t demand near the water they will 20-30 years from now. At a cost of $10,000/tree, less than 10% will make it.


  3. Beautiful, John!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Denise Withnell

    Love this John. And so happy for your rain. But oh so sad about those beautiful old oaks.

    Liked by 1 person

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