The vacant lots lie fallow on your hillsides,
along the trolley right-of-ways,
even next to city buildings;
tender green in winter, at Christmas, after the first rains,
like so many grassy lawns

The wild oats, quickly growing,
obscure the rusty tin cans,
the empty bottles, the piles of trash,
and the pieces of old junked cars,
mantling them softly with green,
and finally obliterating all in a sea of verdure.

The wild oats are green in early spring,
festooned with the azure and violet of lupin
lit all through with the clear orange flame of poppies.
They bleach slowly as the year ages.
The lupin seeds and vanishes in the increasing heat.
The poppies become smaller and smaller
until finally they too shrivel up and go to seed and disappear.
The wild oats grow taller and taller.
They turn from green to pale straw-gold
rusting in the hot dry winds.

Then comes June,
And all across the city gangs of men are at work
burning off the saffron reaches of oats and mustard.
The earth is blackened.
The stubble of the burnt weeks is harsh and ugly.
The old tin cans, the empty whiskey bottles,
the broken pieces of cars
reappear for yet another season
And the fields look sere and dead
until the winter miracle,
until the rejuvescence of the rains.

By Francis Lucille Wetmore, my mother, who wrote this poem when she was all of 17 years of age.