A Winter Hymn

for Joan Didion, for writing “Play It As It Lays”

The soft suburban rain
is as sacred as the subtle
shimmer from your eye;
from malls, tract houses, to oceans,
the salty shoreline air sticks to skin
as the crisp inland bite of frost
settles on leaves and grass…

and the palm trees sway in the grey drizzle—
it’s December in Southern California.

I was up all last night—
I floated across the freeways
and with each mile I prayed anew
in the endless gorgeous concrete maze,
each overpass and under-lit sign
can testify to my contrition
there, passing planted roadside forests…

while the palm trees sway in the grey drizzle—
it’s December in Southern California.

Did you know it’s been two years
since our roadtrip deep into the night;
here, time is traveled just like distance,
either way you’re always going forward—
here where time has just two seasons,
and once again we can see the sky
etherised upon a table…

as the palm trees sway in the grey drizzle—
it’s December in Southern California.

I have been baptized yet again
by the pull of tides along the shore
and even the seagulls sing of my redemption;
Yes, I was once guilty of—too much—love
I dreamed too deeply here, in this land
that seems itself paved with dreams,
this land of tides and deserts, and yearning…

where the palm trees sway in the grey drizzle—
it’s December in Southern California.