California Hills in August | Dana Gioia
Golden California Hills in summer with dramatic shadows

I can imagine someone who found 
these fields unbearable, who climbed 
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust, 
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot, 
wishing a few more trees for shade.

An Easterner especially, who would scorn 
the meagerness of summer, the dry 
twisted shapes of black elm, 
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape 
August has already drained of green.

One who would hurry over the clinging 
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy, 
knowing everything was just a weed, 
unable to conceive that these trees 
and sparse brown bushes were alive.

And hate the bright stillness of the noon 
without wind, without motion, 
the only other living thing 
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended 
in the blinding, sunlit blue.

And yet how gentle it seems to someone 
raised in a landscape short of rain – 
the skyline of a hill broken by no more 
trees than one can count, the grass, 
the empty sky, the wish for water.