Our ValleyWe don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and Augustwhen the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchardwhen suddenly the wind cools and for a moment you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almostbelieve something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,something massive, irrational, and so powerful eventhe mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains have no word for ocean, but if you live here you begin to believe they know everything. They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,a silence that grows in autumn when snow fallsslowly between the pines and the wind diesto less than a whisper and you can barely catchyour breath because you're thrilled and terrified.You have to remember this isn't your land. It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived besideand thought was yours. Remember the small boats that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men who carved a living from it only to find themselves carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home, so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust, wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.
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Our ValleyWe don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and Augustwhen the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchardwhen suddenly the wind cools and for a moment you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almostbelieve something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,something massive, irrational, and so powerful eventhe mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains have no word for ocean, but if you live here you begin to believe they know everything. They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,a silence that grows in autumn when snow fallsslowly between the pines and the wind diesto less than a whisper and you can barely catchyour breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.You have to remember this isn’t your land. It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived besideand thought was yours. Remember the small boats that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men who carved a living from it only to find themselves carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home, so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust, wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

-Philip Levine

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