Elegy for the Groves

By Ellen Chavez Kelley

We woke each morning to the blossomed air,
the grove across the street our favorite lair.
We ran and hid, got lost and did not care.

The fallen fruit was breakfast for the crows,
the trees were fat and planted in long rows
of fertile dirt that stuck between our toes.

We knew the smell of smudge pots in the cold
since frozen air would kill them, we were told,
so California burned to save her gold.

They came and cut the groves out in a wave
of tract home fever, didn’t even save
our grove.  The trees are dead.  It’s all been paved.

The pictures on the crates depict this scene:
snowcapped mountains, clean air, sparkling streams
and groves that only grow inside a dream.

Ellen Chavez Kelley, teaches poetry at UCSB and through California Poets in the Schools. Publications include Song for Highway 40 (Turning Point, 2012) and In the Body of the Grove (2008). Ellen’s picture book My Life as a Chicken (Harcourt, 2012) was a finalist for the California Young Readers Award. Also by this poet: "Faces" and "Red Horse"