Anger (Buena Vista Slough) by Don Thompson

The reeds were in a dry rage
all summer long and on into autumn
like that tinder mindset
we know so well—
almost eager to ignite
if some pyro offered them fire.

Six rainless winters in a row
had been too much,
no run-off to make muck
of obdurate hard pack,
dirt turned to concrete—
willful dust.

But this month, the new year
has blessed us with downpours,
and the slough flows deep and cold
into that lakebed to the south
that lies low, empty,
waiting as long as it has to.

Next spring, egrets will return
to wade through water grass,
taking precise, hieratic steps
according to ancient rites
of forgiveness
that few of us can accept.



Don Thompson has been publishing poetry for fifty years, mostly set in the landscape of the San joaquin Valley. For more info and links to his books, visit his website: