On this date in history, February 29, in the year 1928, Ina Coolbrith passed on.
This is a passing we can note only in years such as these.
Ina Coolbrith was the very first poet laureate of California, a fine and talented a poet, a poet of place, a poet who once memorably asked in her epic poem simply titled “California”:
Are not the fruit and vine
Fair on my hills?
To which we answer “Yes!”
Her poem concluded thusly, and beautifully:
Was in the wind, or the soft sigh of leaves,
Or sound of singing waters? Lo, I looked,
And saw the silvery ripples of the brook,
The fruit upon the hills, the waving trees,
And mellow fields of harvest; saw the Gate
Burn in the sunset; the thin thread of mist
Creep white across the Sausalito hills;
Till the day darkened down the ocean rim,
The sunset purple slipped from Tamalpais,
And bay and sky were bright with sudden stars.
A poet of place, a poet to honor. A poet to honor with a wine.
A wine of place.
To you, poet of our state, a toast!
A leap year.