Just after Groundhog Day

by Paul J. Willis

Just after Groundhog Day, summer begins
in Santa Barbara. Keen smells of blossoms
layer the air, the yellow bloom of mustard
weed and sourgrass and acacia fulfilling
their own prophecy on every side.

Frogs erupt in the barranca,
and out by the mailbox where we linger
to talk in the evening, mosquitoes
gather to be with us, flitting
against the silhouette of the islands
at the foot of the street.

All is latent, luscious, languorous,
the tall grass under the oaks
already thick and green and shining.

Mornings in May could be like this in Oregon
when I got up to deliver papers on my bike.
The houses slept amidst a waking of everything
that was young again—the river, the sky,
the bigleaf maples—while I flung the news
like birdsong, end over end to every doorstep.

—from Visiting Home

Poem of the Month: February 2014

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