Things I Want to Tell You About California
by Barbara Costas-Biggs
I know you’re tired of hearing about it: the perfect
weather, how I stood on a five-gallon bucket to reach
oranges hanging over the fence from the neighbor’s
tree, the meal I made with food from the farmer’s market–
even the mushrooms they called maitake,
hen-of-the-woods where you grew up,
growing at the base of trees, probably in the gully
behind your parents’ home.
I know I can’t make you love the things
that I do, but can’t you see there is a river here?
It runs through the town. A bridge arches over it.
The mountains are like hills, sometimes scrubby,
sometimes covered with the labyrinthine
green of grape vines, not the kudzu threatening
to cover what seems like all of Kentucky.
Red-winged blackbirds sit on fenceposts and rise
from tall grasses, test the hawks like toddlers
tugging at sleeves just like we’ve watched from the window
of our car as we speed past bachelor’s buttons
and black-eyed Susans on the roadside at home.
I know you won’t change your mind and give
it a shot across the country. You are grounded
to these hills, to the Ohio and East Tygart, to the gilt
of a late summer sunset. I’ll try not to fixate but I make
no promises. My mother called last night to tell me
all the roses in Napa are blooming, They’re fat like peonies,
she said. I repeat her to you and add I miss having
peonies in the yard and you said, We’ll get you some.
Barbara Costas-Biggs lives and writes in Appalachian Ohio. Her work has been published in The Appalachian Review, Glass, 8 Poems, and others. Her MFA is from Queens University of Charlotte. Her first collection, Broken On the Wheel, was published in 2021 by Cornerstone Press. She cohabitates with her husband, two ever-hungry teenage boys, and a big black dog. She can be found on the web at www.barbdoesthings.com.