Landscape with redwoods, snake, and California poppies
In memory of Ursula K. Le Guin
We head west over hills, the sea our goal,
But the path we thought so clear fades, and we stray,
Lost amid trees unimaginably old.
There, on a sun-warmed rock, a deadly coil
Is basking, strident warning in its tail.
We flee, through a stream splashing clear and cold,
And from deep shade emerge into bright day
Where, far below our feet, the long-sought trail
Winds through vast hillsides of poppies gleaming gold.
All of the events described in this poem have happened to me, but definitely not all on the same hike.
I feel I should say a few words about why I dedicated this poem to Ursula Le Guin.
This poem has a rhyme scheme that I really like, which I stumbled across while trying to translate
a French poem (which had a more traditional French rhyme scheme). In the afterword to one of
her poetry books, Le Guin talks about how her poetry writing group set each other challenges,
such as writing a poem of a specific form. This inspired me to try to write a poem with my newly
invented rhyme scheme.
Le Guin also wrote a number of California nature poems. While I didn't consciously chose the
subject as an homage to her, on some level I must have done this.