Born in 1897, a San Bernardino native son,
my grandfather lived to be 100. Late in life,
when we would take him out for a drive,
he would point to some shopping mall
off the I-10 and say, We used to hunt
When he retired from title insurance,
he had a farm in Cherry Valley,
fruit trees and eggs. Then, in Yucaipa,
he looked after my grandmother
who hung on 22 years after a crippling
stroke, with a will to live she learned
as an only child in Randsburg,
where her father worked for the mines.
Time and again, I would drive down the coast,
pick up the I-10 in Santa Monica,
take it straight through the polluted heart
of L.A. to the hinterlands, find my way
to the Yucaipa house by memory,
never using a map, never thinking
about how much the freeway
had changed the land in its short life.
My grandfather spent his last days
in a convalescent hospital in Riverside.
He remembered when the palm trees
along on Magnolia Drive were planted,
recalled Sunday drives before the first
world war. He and my grandmother are buried
in Desert Lawn, hardly a resting place,
the I-10 a noisy witness to the end
of their lives and the world they knew.
Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her award-winning poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—”In the Mojave,” “Desert Dweller,” “Mythic Rockscapes,” and “Shared Visions I” and “Shared Visions II.” She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.