Arts and Activism
Arts and Education
by Emily Hiestand
And this is the sage-silver green of live oaks who shade
the chaparral, and this the dull pea-green of shaggy tamarisk,
and this is the pine whose resin once clung to our duffels,
and these are the jade green bones found deep in the flesh of a fish.
And this is the man who asked: What possible meaning
has hidden beauty in the struggle for existence?
And this is the coral that mimics the mossy antlers of elk,
and this is the coral, you will guess, the convolute brain. And this is us,
in one of those fields where, betimes, we find monuments to red:
an iron gate standing free where some road program failed.
And this--oh, this is upside down--can you tell it is the marketplace?
The oranges and eggbreads are local; most everything else imported
in tins and frozen blocks to this sunny principia of cane.
And this is the sea cliff path, a baking reach where the lava basalt
grated our feet, (we should have worn shoes), where fantastic forms
appeared: here the head of a seal, here a window made by the sea to
How rough the lava grows. We should have worn shoes.
And what rubes we must look, as we wince and gingerly probe,
to the snails--that stream of phosphorescent dots--
who are crossing on the softest foot, from one tide pool to another
without complaint--and to the sea with its high threshold of pain.
--first published in The New Yorker
Emily Hiestand is a writer, visual artist, and the literary and poetry editor of Orion. Her books are Green the Witch Hazel Wood, which received the National Poetry Series Award, The Very Rich Hours, and Angela the Upside Down Girl, And Other Domestic Travels, forthcoming in July 1998 from Beacon Press.
If you'd like to order these (and other) books, please visit The Orion Society Bookstore.
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