Summer Storm in the Sierra

A former poet laureate of the United States shares an excerpt from his Summer Snow: New Poems.

an illustration of a mountaintop lake by emily underwood

The world goes silver when a storm comes up—
a sudden silvery green.

Not sure what the verb is for cottonwoods
in a princeling wind.

Their trunks never seem to stand so still as when the leaves
leap and shudder on their stems.
Shiver on their stems.

The pines, a darker, inkier green than an hour ago
when their shiny needles were consorting with first light,
driven rain not yet leaping off the pond,
the wind not yet amusing itself
by juddering the aspens,
know what they know and hardly move at all,

the trunks rock faintly, the branches
wave very slightly, as if to acknowledge an embassy
from some inconsequential vassal state. It’s late—
or the early part of late—in the ancient world
to which they belong and in which they seem invulnerable,
which, of course, they aren’t, being absolute masters
of their weather, but not the climate.

Robert Hass was the poet laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997.

Three Questions with Robert Hass

From Summer Snow: New Poems by Robert Hass (Ecco, 192 pages, $27.99). © 2020 by Robert Hass. Reprinted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Summer Snow: New Poems by Robert Hass, Ecco, 192 pages, $27.99
In addition to his work as a poet and activist, Robert Hass portrayed the Poet in Wildflowers, the debut film by director Melissa Painter.


• By Robert Hass
• Ecco, 192 pages, $27.99

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