Today I have called in sick. The boss’
rude eyes, always insisting
on everyone working overtime,
exhaust me. I want to flop over,
lie on the ground, like spent
dandelions. Today I’m hiking
the wooded hills, the Pacific’s winds
in their tossing limbs. The shade
of oak and pine heal the days
spent under my boss’ harsh glare.
I pause to stroke the reddish bark
of the refrigerator tree,
cooling my hands.
I climb a path that leads
past a fairy lantern, her head
bent downwards, her shy
snowy petals never fully open.
Scents of the soap plant
mix with my sweaty clothes.
The houndstongue licks
at my ankles as I brush past,
avoiding the poison oak.
In an oak’s branches a wild clematis,
having defied the serpentine soil,
soars with white clouds
As I stride into full sun the musky
scent of monkey flowers clings
to me, the petite sun cups
lighting my path. The rarely glimpsed
‘mouse ears’ peeks at me from just
off the path, hidden among the chaparral,
its thumb sized blossom lasting one day.
The sea lies beyond the ridge,
where I look out on the Pacific
and think of Sir Francis Drake
who landed up the coast. What
will I do with my life?
by Bob Bradshaw
Editor’s Note: The litany of flowers in this poem leads the reader from work frustration into the that question we all ask ourselves once our minds have calmed enough to see clearly.