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A Rare Summer Road Trip


by Lu Sobredo 

More than one year into the pandemic in one’s golden years counting 

blessings, mourning regrets, tracing etchings from times past. Distant 

memory blurred by life’s losses; soured by warming climate and ash 

coated air from fires—forests and grasslands suffocated from lack of rain. 

This is not the California of my youth. 

This is not planet Earth of my innocence, but more a semblance 

of an ailing heart scarred with ravages of human neglect, disrespect 

and dishonor. A universe wails in agony at its inhabitants’ indifference.

Driving the stretch of highway from north to south, breath held not 

in awe but in sorrow at the stretches of desolate places far too wide 

for comfort; once gleaming in lush trees, vines hugging the ground 

brimming of  plump seasonal colors and juices of late summer harvest. 

The familiar sight is gone and replaced by barren farms; cows huddled 

for shelter from the sweltering sun under a lone tree of broken dreams, 

lost hope of struggling life on its dying breath. Promises by stewards 

of the land of milk and honey delayed, forgotten or had gone sour.

Heartbreaking scenes in once the flagship cities of America now 

synonymous to intoxicating wealth, symbolic of triumph and greed 

but with dreadful consequences to the less fortunate— loss of privilege 

and dignity, limbs and at times life with no recourse in sight.

Even the blue of the Pacific Ocean within view, the highrises 

sprouting out of the soil where once verdant foliage grew and flourished

gave no comfort. The sky so parched from drought is handcuffed 

from shedding tears to soothe and nurture us or the soil gasping for life.

The earth dries, the soil crumbles shaking California to its senses more 

often than usual. Inhabitants feeling unsafe but unfeeling still of signs, 

cries of angels bearing sad news that should not be ignored—the effects

of our negligent habits shaking us, choking us and making us hate.

Boisterous rhetoric from all sides of our nation’s political divide so loud,

no one listens as some sides shrouded with righteous cloak dismiss

wisdom in science, reality and divine whispers from on high. Factions 

claiming authority as bearers of the last word yet oblivious to the Word.

Taking a momentary pause on this road trip to soothe 

the self or simply calm the nerves and fight the throbbing pain 

in one’s body is must. If one’s body felt this much angst and discomfort, 

imagine the Earth that sustains life, what it must feel in its suffering.

Pause we must. Reduce abuse we must. Each and every breathing 

human soul must reach deep inside to reflect and attempt to heal 

brokenness, mourn our past offenses against the universe and take up 

arms of love and respect. Return dignity, accepting it as a human right.

A rare summer road trip on the second year of COVID-19 pandemic,

A six-plus-year drought in my home state, a seven-plus-year ache 

from my autoimmune illness and the mental trappings of a world 

dissimilar to one from my youth now crying for decency and healing.

Do we listen to the cries or stay deaf inside our cocoons? Is there 

a way to forgiveness from any of the ideological divide? How much

 suffering must we witness or blindly effect? Or are we resigned 

to burn everything into oblivion—the earth, the heart and ourselves?

Poem ©Lu Sobredo & Photo ©James Sobredo 2021



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