Bay Nature magazineJanuary-March 2011

Abbotts Lagoon: October

January 1, 2011

The first thing that is apt to raise your eyes
Above the dove-grey and silvery thickets
Of lupine and coyote bush and artichoke thistle
On the sandy, winding path from the parking lot
To the beach at Abbotts Lagoon is the white flash
Of the marsh hawk’s rump as it skims low
Over coastal scrub. The white-crowned sparrows
Loud in the lupine even in October, even
In a drizzly rain, startle and disappear.
The bush rabbits freeze, then bolt, and disappear,
And the burbling songs and clucks of the quail
That you may not even have noticed you were noticing
Go mute and you are there in October and the rain,
And the hawk soars past, first, hawk, then shadow
Of a hawk, not much shadow in the rain, low sun
Silvering through clouds a little to the west.
It’s almost sundown. And this is that new weather,
In the beginning of the middle of the California fall
When a rain puts an end to the long sweet days
Of our September when the skies are clear, days mild,
And the roots of the plants have gripped down
Into the five or six month drought, have licked
All the moisture they are going to lick
From the summer fogs, and it is very good to be walking
Because you can almost hear the earth sigh
As it sucks up the rain, here where mid-October
Is the beginning of winter which is the beginning
Of a spring greening, as if the sound you are hearing
Is spring and winter lying down in one another’s arms
Under the hawk’s shadow among the coastal scrub,
Ocean in the distance and the faintest sound of surf
And a few egrets, bright white, working the reeds
At the water’s edge in October in the rain.

About the Author

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass teaches poetry at UC Berkeley. His most recent work is The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems (Ecco, 2010).

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