Valley Oak

I love what my mother cannot
love, gray dust, fruitlike
letters. I love your horribles,
too, the checkerboard grasses, all
my life I wished to be cooked 
on the steely patio beside weedy 
rosemary. I saw California, a low
red thing, and my fear inside 

like a piece of yeast. Evenings
I drank sour beer on pine 
slats built smartly to
jut from the house
throwing anchor long past 
the edge of anything calendrical.

I laid the stems of letters 
across wet pages. Does it
sit right at the hip? Is it
in key? Is it
mimetic? Is it 
lacy or sparking?
Is it speaking?

I might have packed it all
up, a beginning, an edge, a
rim, a rime, a shine.
It shone in her mind. Music
is just a job.

Copyright © 2023 by Julia Bloch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 28, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.