The rain that falls here is lost,
Having meant surely to fall somewhere else,
Somewhere that’s already green.
Like always, like last season,
Like next season—someplace rich with green.
Water knows what to do
And wants a comfortable life
This time, its instructions get mixed up.
The wind, just to do something different
And as a joke, indifferent and bored,
Carries it here. Pelicans get lost
This same way, blown off course from California.
They get caught standing on the highway medians
Not knowing what to do as the cars speed by.
Like rain, pelicans make the news that evening.
The green that the rain saw and meant to feed—
That easy job it thought to have,
Driving around in those big Cadillac clouds,
Not asking anyone for directions—looking down,
The green it thought it saw was something else here.
The green it saw was spray paint and mirage,
Old glass, tired plastic, turquoise and roadkill.
As it turns out, the green that lives here is hard,
Dried and full of dirt just as hard. Sometimes
A few green leaves show themselves,
But not easily. A few peach beetles fly around
Carrying green to taunt us,
A few horseflies are green colored. Dried up
Cowponds have some green around the lip
Of their brown shore, and the man-made lakes
Keep some reeds up for decoration.
There are golf courses, to be sure, all green,
But nobody is fooled by them.
They don’t count in this discussion.
Anything green here is underground, waiting
To come up, a small guerrilla army of grasses
And wildflowers, scrub brush and cactus.
And people. People would turn green and grow
If there were water, plenty of rain.
We’re not sure about this, as it has never happened.
But there is something, just under the skin here,
Something more than sweat. There is a green
Inside, waiting to change everything.
People from other places would not know—
They have used up their allotment of green.
But those here, who have waited these centuries,
That layer of skin they can’t explain, it’s there.