Sappho in California

We can only imagine the rubies

And pearls that were Los Angeles at night.

The plane touches down like a toe testing

The pool water where the city starts.

This is where it might start. We can be sure

As the swallows of San Juan Capistrano.

She doesn’t know about the swell of sea salt

That we’ve mistaken for loops of gulls 

Around the bay. Everything grows

Wild. Everything is like a cherry.

Poets come here. No one asks them to come.

Some hate Ashbery, some love him. And she

Buries hate like two thoughts, the passive hands

Of the Pacific. Buries what is her

In the thought of a young girl, the absence

Of grace. The other, the thought of Leda

Burying a swan’s egg in a pillow.

In any case, we shouldn’t expect much

From this place. This coast will never say, “You 

Have moved me.” Children will be born.   

Oranges will still grow without us.