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.