Granite Bay, CA
2021, Senior, Poetry & Spoken Word
i am from the golden state.
it’s the golden-brown state, in actuality.
a vernal emerald
briefly reigns the sierra foothills,
soon subdued by the color of
the eponymous kelly moore paint,
a paper-bag shade of
during the oven summers.
it’s only april
when temperatures begin to look like
in degrees fahrenheit.
91. 96. 103. 108. 112.
folsom lake vanishes,
and the water is a hairline, receding.
the heat endures, revealing more desiccated shore, and the
engulfed miners’ town
it was flooded decades ago to make a
i visited the town in 2014, two years into the second
californian drought in my lifetime.
as i walked amidst stone walls
settled deep into the parched lake bed,
my brother told me that i was drowning:
tens of feet under
the lake’s expected surface.
i was in junior high
when paradise became a chimney,
exhaling smoke from the very buildings.
the scorched acres and lost lives were reduced to
flashing across tv screens.
this wildfire led us to have gym class
as if we could hide from the air quality index:
i have never had school closed for
a snow day, but
it was canceled
that november, when the sky was smudged
as brown as the june plants and
as gray as our negligent rain clouds.
they called it a smoke day.
During the creation of my poem, I reflected on my experience as a Californian and the climate-related issues that have impacted my life. My research about droughts and wildfires revealed a dangerous cycle to me. Worse droughts create increased fires, which emit carbon dioxide, leading to higher temperatures and more droughts. Water is the essential component to preventing or mitigating droughts and fires, of course. This underlines the value of water as a resource. The lack of water in California is a problem that most residents are acutely aware of, but I hope to motivate people of all geographical backgrounds to consider the importance of water in their life. Some places have too much water, and others don't have enough, but we all need it.