Where now a thousand thousand houses bake in the summer desert sun, there were once lolling sandhills as far as Slover Mountain, surrounded by the endless geometry of dark green orange groves. The limestone mountain was ground down over the years to make concrete to make the stucco houses that crowded out the groves.

California is written

in sand, sand in the pastel stucco’d walls,

sand in the dry, gravelly river washes,

sand piled high in dunes under the beach’s

          rocky cliffs, and, then,

when they erode and fall into the sea, in hot deserts

where horntoads dart under dry sagebrush

and the sand blows on the winds, 

abrading even the paint on stop signs.

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