by Christopher Raley Hills that were California brown and held rich in folds of laden heat and gave a scrub oak’s worth of shade against sun and dust;
hills that were fire black and held rich on islands in devastated calm, having given oaks to bare the brunt and wilt yellow who were too close to flame
are hills that are newly grown, regenerate who owes to no man scars of her rebirth— how she labored under God’s slow contract and pushed up nutrient earth around those preserved on malnourished soil.
So oaks are umbrellaed dots on hillsides, amber as a row of open graves. Theirs is not decided what may yet be life or death.