Already late October and where did September go?
In the garden crocuses push up through the leaf fall.
Everything’s confused here. It’s California,
caught in weird, autumnal thrall.
California, like a page thumbed open,
exposed to weathers, like a recitation
of forgetfulness, flighty liturgy,
the unearthly gaining shape as the whole
continent tips westward into the sea.
Here in the low Sierras, camellias mingle
with the flash and flame of migrant maples,
old icons planted by homesick pioneers, hungry for a different gold.
And the breeze that shifts out of the East
might as well bring snow as clouds
sink into the valley below.
What is it we gather to ourselves
while these things want to bloom even as the dying
begins, even as the season yearns for completion?
What is it unravels as the new ravelling starts?
There’s no summation in California.
We tremble at the tip, but never fall.
We linger too long and lose our scope,
and drift into the endless sea, headlong
into the West.
by Maxima Kahn, first published in Hardpan