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"Peters Canyon, March 2020" by Marc Petrie


I’ve walked this canyon for 25 years.

Water once filled the reservoir

irrigated citrus orchards

attracted birds:

Tri-colored blackbirds

with vibrant orange stripes,


egrets and herons,

hawks and the occasional eagle,

migratory ducks and geese.

In March, 1995, a naturalist pointed out

a Western Blue Jay.

Through binoculars

I saw bright blue

memories of mountain hikes and

an Eastern childhood.


I almost stepped on a snake

who slithered across the trail

as startled as me.

A plaque near the crest of the hill

the far side of the lake

dedicated to the drought explains

how climate change

dried the waters

along with the waterfowl and the blackbirds.

I haven’t seen a hawk circling for years,

not since fire raced up the dry canyon,

wiped out the willows where

birds nested.

Twenty-five years—

my son will never know this park

the way I knew it:

water lapping

the edge of the muddy trail;

A seep hidden in the lower canyon

where frogs provided their cadence.

He patiently waits for me to shut up.

He has never seen a blue jay

in Orange County, or stopped to listen

to the welcome winter voice of ducks

on a pond. He covers his face to escape the rising dust

To him its all-dried cracked mud.


Marc Petrie has published a novel, A Dream Once Dreamed, a collection of poems, Then All Goes Blue, and has had work published in numerous journals including City Lights Review, California Quarterly, Pearl, Santa Barbara Review among others. A chapbook, Poems of Nature and Grief, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2021. Mr. Petrie holds a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematical Economics and a Master of Science in Systems Engineering. He wrote for numerous college and California newspapers in his youth. He holds teaching credentials in Mathematics, French, and General Education and teaches Middle School at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, where he was Teacher of the Year in 2018.

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