National Poetry Month: ‘Northern California’

Rage Hezekiah

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we’ll be sharing a poem a week from our archives. The following poem, “Northern California” by Rage Hezekiah, is from Issue 116. You can read more poetry by Rage Hezekiah in the issue itself, which is currently available from our Store.

You stood at the edge

of the stone fruit orchard

while I scaled the ladder,

a picking basket against

my belly, brimming

with shiny-ripe plums.

Father, you came

to California willing

to farm at my side,

practiced shattered

Spanish with the men

I’d befriended. When

I left after lunch

to get high, you never

said a word about

the workday. You

let me be guiltless

& young. On the weekend

we cruised the 101,

ate green tea ice cream

beneath eucalyptus—

air salted sweet. We

wandered Muir Beach

in tranquil awe, until

surf chased us back

toward the dunes,

pants heavy-wet,

both laughing. Before

you learned to swim

& I learned black joy—

we doubled over

taunting each crested

broken wave, at play

with an ancient tide—

wide grins agleam

in the sun.

Rage Hezekiah is the author of the poetry collections Unslakable (Paper Nautilus Press) and Stray Harbor, to be published by Finishing Line Press in August. You can read more of her poetry in Issue 116, available on our Shop page.

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