Mary Marcus: I Am The Grass And I Am Dead

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Pile the bodies high in the Palisades and Malibu,
Shovel them under, and let me work, I am the grass
And I am dead— (apologies to Carl Sandburg)

Even though it rained last night, a really pounding rain, and this morning it’s drizzling, it’s not enough and won’t last long enough to do any good. For months now, whenever I walk the streets of my neighborhood, I think of the grass poem by Carl Sandburg. I am the grass I cover all. My version: I am the grass and I am dead.

We need snow in the mountains, and 40 days of rain down here. The kind of rain that causes mud slides and floods. We are drying up here in Southern California. Literally dying for rain. Still, I have to say, for the present moment, it is wonderful to go outside without the blasting sun beating down. My dog Henry, who while born in Arkansas, on Nodie Williams’ Frayed Knot Farm, is freaked out by the rain. He would barely go out for his early morning stroll in the drizzle, and because he wouldn’t do his biz, a measure of how freaked out he is, an hour later, I’ve just come in from taking him out once again. He sniffs around like something strange is going on. I don’t think he remembers too much about the rain, though he’s been in rain in New York. He doesn’t think it’s natural. Or maybe he thinks he’s getting a bath. Henry is three years old and most of the time he’s in LA. He doesn’t have much first hand experience of rain.

A majority of my thrifty neighbors in Little Osaka have already let their little patches of St. Augustine go–or have planted Astroturf–we don’t have any grass, our landlord has sustainable plantings on our little patch of soil. Though, I’m used to it now, the patches of dead where there used to be soft green grass. If things keep up like this, there won’t be grass in the park down by the ocean where we like to stroll. Then no more of Henry doing that hilarious dog maneuver where he rolls over on his back, and does the Hoochie Koochi with his paws in the air so he can feel the soft grass against his back.

I am the grass and I am dead.

I was talking to a friend of mine and complaining about the water bill, ours is about a hundred dollars a month just for water. She owns a rental property in Santa Monica with three units and it’s a thousand dollars a month for water. A thousand dollars a month! Just for water.

I am the grass and I am dead.

Apparently other than agriculture, almonds in particular, the biggest offenders are the great green lawns in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Outside of town, trees are exploding. There’s no way to water them and suddenly on hot day, one will just blow up. Cattle ranches are closing (I guess that means, more dead animals). The huge Mormon Church that’s a couple of miles from here has let its vast green expanse go. I haven’t been over to see it. Because it’s just too depressing. The private golf clubs seem unaffected by the petty concerns of the hoi poloi, when I drive by, they appear as verdant as ever.

They say we have one more winter. And after that, the water is gone.

I am the grass and I am dead.

Mary Marcus

Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me and the newly released Lavina. Visit her website for more.

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On May 22, 2015
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