The Santa Anas

Photo by Colette LaBouff.


from here the earth
is a shade of the darkest
blue before black

i look out the window
and i know where we are

where the desert looks
like the ocean at night

and if the plane fell
i thought at least i’d die
in California


there’s a specific memory
a feeling that comes

when the windows are open
at night

and the air is a dry
certain kind of cold

i’m in my bed at my parents’ house
it’s late and i tried to sleep

but there’s a sad movie on TV
and it feels good to be sad
right then


the house i grew up in
had yellow paint peeling
to white

a too small kitchen
with a back door

a driveway
of broken asphalt

which my bare feet
always forgot

until i was outside
and running
without shoes again


driving to Christmas dinner
the dry heat whipped

my hair into my mouth
but nobody could hear anybody
over the wind anyway


the smell of burning
rises from the stale hillsides
to the South

acres and acres
are scorched black

the smell of smoke clings
to my hair and clothes

to the curtains and couches
throughout the house


young and crying
i stood in the hallway

as my parents moved
my brother and his things

into the spare room
our father had used
as a dark room

i didn’t know
a night without him

in the other twin bed

i didn’t know
what night

would look like
without him lying in it


the wind
is always travelling
toward me

eyes red and burning
skin drawn tight and thirsty

that is how i know
to go inside

i will feel sick soon
from the heat and the dust


there is a lemon tree
in the backyard

the fruit falls rotten
to the dirt year round

the yield is too heavy
for the tree’s many arms
to hold

Caitlin Mohney is a poet currently living and working in her home state of California. 
Explore Related Content