Hills brown from arsenic
in copper smelter town
but most spring times
land shouts with grass
loved by winter snow melt

One April morning
I saunter to school
late surviving dew
sits on young grass
bristles under rising sun
warmth creeps into beckoning ground
pushes yellow dandelions up
shapes a fertile verse

I turn familiar corner
Mike’s gas station
reeks used oil
burnt garbage soaks me
with unwanted whiffs
smelter’s smoke drifts down
chokes John’s bakery spice

Another corner
bends into crowded alley
kids badger, yell, giggle
crowd around for attention
some mumble sluggishly on
hand bell rings from school yard
familiar morose whistle
signals men to morning shift

I know I must hurry but
my eyes fill with delight
a shaft of light so clear
it seems made of bone
falls on church cross
I stand still
bemused by beauty
remarkable that I find it

*from Steinbeck, Cannery Row

Marianne Lyon has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching in Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2016. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild. She is an Adjunct Professor at Touro University Vallejo California.