A Laureate Poem


by Sonoma County Poet Laureate Katherine Hastings 

There is no sun.  There is no sky.
There are no stars opening
like crystal flowers.  The winter streets
are narrow alleys, sit in brick piles
stacked up, up, to wall-lock the world.
Before us, in the forever dark, each
hour has had the light erased, except
for the light clung in our fists, kept hot
in our pockets, brought yesterday
from billions of light years away.
One wonders here how many know
their names.  The Lion, the Virgin, the Bear.
There, out the window, the streets — stories
and more stories below —  are wet
but there is no way to know if the wind blows.
The steady voice of traffic is my ocean,
accompanies me down the mountain,
over the divide to the pacific shore. 
Dogs run free there.   I walk.  At 92nd Street
and 3rd Avenue, the wind folds umbrellas,
breaks their spines.  Take-out is held
tightly in plastic bags.  A little girl in
hot pink boots searches for small lakes.
The black dog in his flouncy yellow
slicker prances down the street looking
like a sunflower.  Not even tourists
mind this rain.  It is nature.  It is real.
They tilt their heads and open their mouths

wide, as though their lives depend on it.

©  Katherine Hastings