My Fiftieth Year in California

by Sharon Fain

Soon the longest night of the year
will bear down on these trails
near my home, a darkness

that for the ancients was like a death.
At New Grange and Stone Henge
they lit torches, waited it out.

But here beside the Pacific,
the idea of mortality falters.
Nothing freezes. One’s life becomes

a sort of celebratory drifting.
We get wildflowers in December—
meadow foam, shooting stars,

acres of blue and white lupine.
A girl in upstate New York, I felt marked
by the winters, not hurt exactly

but changed each time,
as if I were a weathering stone
or a tree laying down annual rings.

Now I sometimes fail to notice
the changed angle of afternoon light.
One hiking friend tells me she hears

a crackling sound in the canyon
and knows summer is ending.
Another identifies winter

by the presence of certain birds.
On our walks, never a word about death
which none of us quite believe in.


Sharon Fain is the author of two chapbooks, Telling the Story Another Way, from Puddinghouse Press and Territories, from Spire Press. She was awarded the 2009 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize, a 2010 Paumanok Prize, a Pushcart nomination, a Marin (California) Arts Council Grant and several residencies. Her work has appeared in Nimrod, Poetry East, Crab Orchard Review, the Literary Review, Arts & Letters, Southern Humanities Review and Best New Poets 2010, among others.


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