Merced, Autumn / Merced, Winter
by Margaret Young

Merced, Autumn

Sunsets, crows head west in low sparse flocks,
loose groups crossing the sky towards the glow,
rays gilding valley oak and beeches
and the sharp-tipped racks of cypresses,
black combs.

A woman in a pink shirt washes
her red car while three cats watch.

The small low houses have neatly
watered lawns and furious dogs
penned up in back. One Hmong
woman in old-country clothes is tending
her herb plot while the crows go west
into the dimming.

Pumpkins on stoops wrinkle their lips and noses.
We’re all saints, declare the crows, all holy,
says the tabby, turning its green eyes to the cypress.

Merced, Winter

Heat rising from the asphalt’s dark cake,
dandelions widen cracks.
Then scrub jay calls out, Rain! and all these
elegant cumulus get down to business.
Cars hurry into driveways, wind shivers
the sycamores, robins duck into the solitude
of yews. Slowly spinning foam cups
share puddle space with worms
who couldn’t take it anymore,
this downpour filling now
fields: a tractor slogs
farmwards, orange-capped driver
followed by the scent
of wet turned earth.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 4.

Margaret Young, winner of Bright Hill Press’s Poetry Book Competition for Almond Town, grew up in Oberlin, Ohio. She earned an MA in creative writing at the University of California, Davis, and her first poetry collection, Willow from the Willow, was published by Cleveland State University Press in 2002.

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