Oranges, scarlets and golds
burst across the Southland,
mobs of Fall color,
to match my mother’s calendar
as the year and pages grow thin.
SoCal unique autumn benefits,
nightly news touted catalog,
for the encircling mountains
of Ciudad de los Angeles:
clearance for spring of
fragrant manzanita, oily chaparral,
wildlife has more open space,
hi-temp seed germination.
Jerky cameras display flamed brilliance
climbing against the stars,
up the Angeles Crest.
Pine and oak torches dance on hilltops.
Angelino child, I stand in my front yard
and wonder about California seasons.
The radio told us it was
carelessness or intentional,
or an Act of Nature like auto
insurance called it
when our car hit a deer.
I watch the oranges, scarlets, and golds
on the horizon and stick out my tongue
to taste drifting ashes.
A kid scrabbles up gray boulders,
forsaking mother’s sedate path.
Plaque is read, for my inattention,
detailing two centuries of life
for Pebble Beach’s Lone Cypress.
Among towered stones, she dwells
in the house of adversity
between typhoon winds and melon
sunsets crimped on the horizon.
I grip her coarse bark, smelling
the sour of decayed aspirin.
Chains upright like crutches hold her
in place— fun for my swinging,
until mother warns me off
to tide pools below Madame’s feet.
My own children rock scramble,
probing tide pool short lives:
sea urchin, star fish, and sculpin.
Park bench suits grandma and me.
We admire the tenacity
of Lone Cypress from forty feet
fenced to secure safety from
tourist feet and arson.
Scorched, a twisted arthritic
fist stabs at heaven,
immobile and eloquent,
Cypress persists. We change
and I push my mother up
a wheelchair accessible trail
to an inaccessible tree
a last 17 Mile Drive tour.
Soon mother’s dust will waft
to the unseen Western Isles.
How many greats of grandchildren
will see this vibrant tree?
From Monterey, California, Victoria Crawford is a poet passionate about connecting nature and the human experience in words to share with readers. She has been published in Peacock Journal, the Ibis Head Review, Wildflowers Muse, the Lyric Review,
Eastlit, and other magazines, as well as having upcoming work in Canary and Pacific Poetry.