Real ground


Feb 26, 2021 | Real Ground | 6 comments

And Yet

Contributed By: Beth Benjamin

I moved back to the college town of Claremont ten years ago to care for my aging parents; the moister climate of the Santa Cruz mountain redwood forests, my adult home, is far more pleasurable to me, and I hope to return there eventually, but there is much to love about this place



Image by Chris Goldberg


Once again the town breathes hot and arid,

panting at the base of a California mountain range

that runs from west to east.

We pride ourselves on a canopy of trees

in a drought stressed landscape,

strive to maintain this gentle shady dream.


After each rain

my heart eases,

relaxes its clenched fist.

With enough of a drench

I hear the root hairs drinking

for a couple of weeks anyway.


At least there’s snow in the Sierra Madre,

mother of waters,

for the coming year.

I can imagine damp meadows

of magenta shooting stars

and glowing panther lilies,

petals arching backwards from their mottled throats,

preening beside stream banks.


But rumors of El Nino moisture

don’t put juices in the bushes

of our chaparral landscape.

I’m all tensed up again.


I try to maintain an outlook

more geological than botanical,

have a little more trust in the depth of roots,

but at 90 degrees on Valentine’s Day,

no clouds in a sharp blue sky,

all these hopes of green may be unrealistic.

Better to love the paddles of opuntia,

eat nopales and sweet Indian fig,

called sabra in Hebrew

in another thorny land,

to love the spiny cholla,

shining golden in the glare,

that hosts the cactus wren,

and get comfortable with boulders and gravel.


And doesn’t the syrupy sunlight

rest sweetly on my closed eyelids?

And wasn’t that sleeveless February evening

delicious against my skin?


  1. David Firman

    From someone who grew up in Southern California this poem struck home in so many wonderful ways.

  2. Joanna jones

    How beautiful. So intuitive and descriptive

  3. Wayne Pribble

    A lovely piece. Makes me feel at home.

  4. Diane Dunne

    Wonderfully descriptive of California’s climate and our relationship with it.

  5. katy hertel

    Thank you Beth. Your poem exquisitely gives words to my same feelings.

  6. Laurie Hennig

    Your words describe my feelings as I contemplate a dry winter in Boulder Creek.


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