Grandfather, these inland hills
and the canyons we blasted with .22s
shrink in the August sun.
Housing tracts put a stop
to our bullets; at night streetlights climb
like the edge of a wave
over sage crowded slopes.
Stones embroider Vista del Mar
among the poppies, where cars pass
the guard and through the gates.
At long tables, buyers peruse
the shuffle of hacienda façades
fifty miles from the nearest sea.
Hawks are few; they circle the bones
of banks under construction,
the air-conditioned curios
with “Country” in their names.
But on the ridge, the cottage you built
with your hands and knotty pine
has sold and sold again,
grown to twice its size. The prickly pear
out back follows suit, and in the narrow canyon
boulders bear the scars of all our bullets,
and the winds call us home
across the forgotten stream bed
that was never ours.
©2018 William O’Daly
Previously published by Susurrus, Spring 2011, print
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William O’Daly has translated eight books of the late-career and posthumous poetry of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, and most recently Neruda’s first volume, Book of Twilight — all published by Copper Canyon Press. His books of poems include The Whale in the Web, published by Copper Canyon Press, as well as The Road to Isla Negra and Water Ways (a collaboration with JS Graustein), both published by Folded Word.