In the early days of motoring, when humans first cut through the garnet-bearing granitoides, potato sandstone, and Pelona grayschists of the canyon now called Mill Creek and once called something undoubtedly more poetic, the road was too steep and narrow for two vehicles to meet. Over the last century or so, the San Bernardino Mountains, a transverse range east of Los Angeles, developed into the most heavily urbanized national forest in the country. Once, gatekeepers monitored staggered relays of traffic at Oak Knoll Lodge at the top and the easternmost point of the Kite-shaped Rail Line at the bottom; now, numbered state highways rumble with traffic day and night.
Along the control road, churches built camps around rare and evanescent lakes, and bootleggers built party houses next to swimming holes. Many old buildings have burned, leaving only stone fireplaces gradually disappearing under Ailanthus altissima, poison oak, and blackberry. Patrols of various agencies regulate trail use, target shooting, trout fishing, sage poaching. Rules are flexible at best, fickle at worst. I can usually talk my way past a chain-up checkpoint or a fire closure, but need a five-dollar daily “Adventure Pass” if I want to pull over and take a walk. Nestlé pays a little over five hundred dollars for a lease that lets it drain more than thirty million gallons of water per year out of Strawberry Canyon and resell it in plastic.
This is climate-change California, inland chaparral, unstable deep in the rocks and high on the slopes, a place of fire, of too little rain and then too much. I was trained to identify how particular things happen in places, at specific moments in time, to certain people and for certain reasons, the Five Ws of the journalist, the starting point for every narrative, and then I was trained in Russian literature, an antidote to causality.
Lately I’ve spent mornings at Seccombe Lake Park in San Bernardino, documenting hopeful murals and the empty, mangled tree cage where a 100-year-old magnolia was moved in 1989 and promptly died of neglect. By afternoon, I’m home, rereading Chekhov, Uncle Vanya, Dr. Astrov’s praise of trees – they moderate the climate and where the climate is gentle, the arts and sciences flourish, men treat women with more respect. Astrov’s enthusiasm is contagious, he lifts the spirits of everyone, especially the ladies. But he drinks too much, falls in stupid love, neglects his saplings and his patients. Is he too hard on himself, or not hard enough?
Along Yucaipa Ridge, nearly overhead, dead pines and stressed oaks bristle, little dread-antennas signaling the Four-F zone: flood, flow, fault, fire, the last especially scary after years of tree die-off from drought and development, bark beetles and Phytophthora ramorum, the fungus that causes Sudden Oak Death. Astrov’s lineage throughout Southern California, stewards of burned-off mountains, contend with rootbound saplings they can’t bear to plant out even in rainy years. A few degrees warmer, and the high-altitude bank account, the snowpack that slows down runoff, disappears too quickly to keep the trees alive.
From the back patio, even surrounded by oak and sycamore trees, I can hear the rush of traffic, exhaust brakes, motorcycles screaming through their gears. The highway from the San Bernardino Valley climbs from fifteen hundred feet at the bottom to four thousand in less than ten miles, and then four thousand feet more around Onyx Peak.
Because they’re an east-west range, the San Bernardinos exaggerate north-south biomes: Joshua tree desert and summer thunderstorms on the northern edge, chaparral/yellow pine and, in good years, Pacific storms from late October to May on the south face. Like all arid-country vegetation, chaparral is fire-adapted but shouldn’t burn too much or too hot; the Russian thistle, the exotic bromes and brooms, the rosemary and Japanese juniper, are like splashes of accelerant on the land.
The scanner crackles to life at my elbow, and then the coded tones, which I no longer recognize. A police scanner is a lonely and familiar sound. When I worked at a newspaper in San Bernardino, my job mostly involved covering local government in the eastern part of the valley, the scams and scandals, the water grabs and turf battles. The newsroom always had the scanner on, and the editors expected us to hear variations in the usual hum of business. Every couple of weeks I had to stay late, monitor the calls, and go with a photographer to the scene of whatever terrible thing came through the static. When the cops didn’t want the likes of me (or the people they were after) listening in, they went to a closed tactical channel. “Go to tac,” they’d say, and the photographer and I would wail in protest on our way out the door. No! Don’t go to tac!
One night we were called out to look at some plastic explosives, a trunk full of them. Malefactors use explosives for “intimidation, enforcement, and recreational bombing,” which they practice in the Santa Ana wash, the cops said. The emptiness of the dry country invites the occasional explosion; even on quiet nights, we could usually expect a robbery or a noteworthy wreck along one of the murderous state highways, on 18 above the Arctic Circle on cold nights, 38 at Boca de Cañon on foggy ones, along 395 at Kramer Junction, a lost place in the Mojave Desert, any time at all. Horrible events along the 395 are evergreen stories. Covering cops and roads, I would search for synonyms lest I overuse the word “mangled” to describe vehicles that shoot off into the yucca flats and flood-etched draws of the urban edges, that run themselves into rocks and trees.
I still follow stories, the time a man shot a couple of snitches in a drug house, stuffed two hostages into his trunk, and led the LEOs on a miles-long chase, firing through the back seat until he ran off the road. Relatives and friends of a teenager killed when he wrapped his pickup truck around a cork oak ring-barked the tree out of revenge; it now stands starkly dead among its surviving fellows. Marines, sleepy from early-morning drills or fearless after surviving Afghanistan or Iraq, lose control on the deadly Twentynine Palms Highway, killing mothers on the school run, landscapers intent on their morning mow-and-blow circuit, or themselves in what law enforcement press releases call an “over the side.”
The Serrano and Cahuilla people who first lived in these mountains revered the mighty grizzly and worshipped the Eye of God, a white quartz megalith north of Onyx Summit. In the mid-nineteenth century, a prospector packed it with dynamite, hoping to blast through to a rich vein. Spotted from a distance, the Eye of God barely clears the trees, much reduced.
Two wet winters triggered huge crops of acorns that cover the porch and the steps and roll underfoot like ball bearings, tripping trick-or-treaters in the fall and sprouting little red-tipped volunteers in the spring. Normal Octobers begin with Santa Ana winds and fires and ends with snow along the ridge lines, at least a dusting for Seven Oaks, Hell-for-Sure Canyon, Pinezanita, Constance Peak. A roaming bear has scattered the neighbor’s trash in the driveway and then had an epic and untidy poop. I pick up the empty sour cream containers but leave the pile of scat for rain to wash away
Or not. The cut-off lows of late autumn confound prediction, frustrate hopes that the burn scars on the hills will soon heal, that storms will coax out the crown-sprouters, elder and chamise and wild buckwheat, the necessary plants of an edgy landscape.
“God’s world is good,” wrote Chekhov, after a grueling trip to the Russian far east, where he visited convicts and experienced vast wildness. “Only one thing in it is bad: we ourselves.” He couldn’t meet with political prisoners, but Siberia contained multitudes: common criminals and their guards, failed entrepreneurs, marooned civil servants, alcoholic intellectuals, ruined aristocrats, and the children of all, doomed to cholera and typhus, misery and prostitution. A writer forgives everyone, he wrote a friend, even the worst criminal, even when he has been convicted and punished.
Last night I pulled in to the driveway and what looked like a big yellow dog with a funny tail dematerialized behind a manzanita; the tree-trimmers in the neighbor’s sycamore said they saw claw marks on the trunk close to our roof. The creature must have been a mountain lion, the first one I’ve seen in twenty years. On the urban edge of greater Los Angeles, with its 25 million people, this landscape is inevitably used and degraded, but it still has its share of showy creatures, orange and raspberry orioles and tanagers, hummingbirds and band-tailed pigeons, snowberry clearwing and sphinx moths, bats and skunks, a raccoon that sighs and farts and sprawls drowsily on a high branch as I finish Uncle Vanya and begin Seagull. On hikes at this elevation, I’ve spotted bobcat and long-tailed weasel and foxes, dippers and kingfishers and willow flycatchers, and the people who hunt them, too, with lures that squeak and twitch like distressed prey.
“I have been a bad person,” Constantin says to Nina in Seagull. “I killed a seagull this morning, in your honor. I intend to shoot myself one of these days, just like this.” Chekhov has a reputation for gentleness, but his characters can be unruly: Uncle Vanya tries to shoot the professor, Constantin shoots himself. Yakov brains Matvei with a bottle of oil, Aksinya scalds Lipa’s baby, Vladimir Ivanovych, a terrorist and revolutionary, wants to shoot a judge, and Natasha, nearly unforgivable Natasha, wants to cut down the avenue of trees leading to the Three Sisters’ childhood home.
New species appear, old ones disappear, and the logic between who/what/where/when stretches and collapses before I can get to why. Feral parrots make an almost daily ten-mile commute from the San Bernardino Valley, motivations inscrutable. The parrots’ arrival six years ago coincided with the disappearance of what was once our commonest mammal, the acorn-devouring Western gray squirrel, killed in their thousands by mange. Why do the parrots come up here now? I’ve never seen them eat an acorn. Correlation is not causation. The human balance has changed, too – a man pitched a hidden tent in the canyon three years ago, then another, and now there’s an encampment of weather-beaten and broken people weighing colder nights above against tougher customers below, walking the highway early in the morning and late at night, tucking a battered car into a scenic overlook and sometimes letting a fire run out of control up the ridge. The first man’s name was Levi, we knew him and some of his story, but nothing about the subsequent arrivals.
Each autumn, a natural resources conservation crew visits the neighborhood to eradicate Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima, a noxious invasive that seeds, suckers, and pulls water from far underground. One year, they mistakenly cut the California walnut I’d babied to waist height. Tapping the stump and untidy crown sprout with my foot, I consider the oaks: are they canyon live oaks, Quercus chrysolepsis, a native beloved of the Serrano, who processed their acorns in this very canyon, or are they Quercus ilex, a European oak? Scientists say that plants can signal each other through the soil; is oak tree language mutually intelligible, or is the underground fungisphere missing a signal? Does one tree whisper “taamit, muat, pàt,” and hear in response a baffled, “sol, luna, agua?”
Our house has stood since the 1940s and these sycamores and cottonwoods much longer, a hundred years or more, from when this spot was a toll station and campground. Even so, a geologist told us, we are crazy to live in a Four-F Zone. He has a point, we’ve had to flee several fires and houses near us have burned or washed away, but we know of only one person in the area actually killed by insurgent nature: F number four, flow, a freak storm that sent a boulder into an unlucky woman’s house.
Most of the bad news up here is about the road and its casualties, the manmade avalanches of metal that overshot the curve, made a hasty left turn, tried and failed to pass on the double yellow. A bus driver bringing a group of medical students from Tijuana to play in the snow lost control a few winters ago and killed one of our neighbors, along with several passengers. A drunk partying creekside made a u-turn and nearly killed another neighbor. CalTrans, the heroic infrastructure warrior guild of Southern California, replaced the old Bots dots with no-nonsense diamond grinds along the fog line; drift a few inches to the right and there’s a teeth-jolting burr under the wheels. CalTrans fillets the asphalt, they plow snow, clear drainage channels, gentle curves, and still people die and are maimed every year. I keep old towels in my trunk for applying pressure and just draping over shocked shivering victims blankly staring at wheels spinning in the air.
The neighbors hold meetings of concern about traffic, about people setting fires, the dropping water table, new assessments for fire protection, about a sex offender taking advantage of our neighborhood’s distance from schools and playgrounds to rent a room. It’s necessary to go, it’s necessary, but things eventually get weird: according to my neighbors, the litterers and crazy drivers are Mexican, the obtuse county bureaucrats from San Bernardino are black, the sex offender has, among his many aliases, a woman’s name, and among his many scars, signs of a transgender surgery. These details are unfurled in triumph, as though selected facts resolve something, as though certain kinds of categories make certain kinds of problems more urgent.
If the Four-Fs mandate flight, there’s only one way in and one way out unless we go the long way over the mountains, a hundred-mile loop. One February morning in 2013, sirens screamed up the canyon for an hour straight, and the police scanner told me to forget about driving to work in either direction: a vengeful and murderous former Los Angeles cop named Christopher Dorner, focus of a two-week manhunt that ranged from Tijuana to the Kern County line, had gone to ground in a cabin just up the road.
Unhealthy limbs like Dorner are pruned out all the time, says my friend Jim, a retired police chief who studies such things for a law enforcement think tank. Jim’s a Chekhovian optimist, surprised that things aren’t worse, that more people with grievances or imagination don’t commit more violent and frightening acts. After washing out of the police for ordinary incompetence, Dorner could have gone into private security, or found a just-in-time gig in one of the warehouses growing like mushrooms along the interstates, or borrowed a fortune for a speeded-up BA in business or an HVAC certification that may or may not have led anywhere, but instead he became a well-trained freelance terrorist and killed four people.
After talking with Jim, I drove to the charred remains of the cabin where Dorner died in a fiery hail of bullets. Charred remains, mangled vehicles, a fiery hail of bullets: only we ourselves are not good The Santa Ana River burbled along in the weird flat way of rivers close to their source, like it hasn’t quite figured out this riverbed business quite yet. Cherry and apple trees bloomed in an antique orchard.
The Dorner episode got me back in the habit of logging on to the police scanner, especially if I felt the air go out of the day, felt the shift of attention that signals what Jim calls a “major incident.” One December morning, I took an early lunch break to buy some pistachio mamoul at the Syrian bakery when what sounded like every law enforcement vehicle for miles around screamed north, clearly a Dorner-level crisis.
I went back to work, shared out the pastries, fired up Broadcastify, and listened to the cross-street announcements edge along the eastern San Bernardino city limits. We learned the details later: a civil servant and his wife, parents of a baby girl, killed 14 people at the county health department’s annual holiday lunch. The couple drove around for a while before dying in a barrage audible through the scanner feed.
Because they failed to survive and didn’t leave behind a note or a manifesto, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik remain indeterminate as terrorists. Nearly every day, I pass their former apartment. It’s been gutted and rented to the sister of one of my former students. There are a few more American flags on display now than before, but otherwise no sign that anything odd happened here. It is possible to open wide wounds in this region, the “Inland Empire” of Southern California, this sprawling, culturally and ethnically diverse, geologically and economically unstable place, two huge counties anchored by the eponymous cities of Riverside and San Bernardino, without much in the way of witness, marks, or record. Schools here “go into lockdown” if there is an emergency in the neighborhood; many of my students are so used to that drill they have come to expect it, and are angry that they weren’t confined to their dorms and classrooms all day while the terrorists were on the loose. It baffled me at the time: my old journalist self wants to see what’s going on, wants to follow the scanner chatter to the action, gets angry when the authorities go to tac.
After the killings at the Inland Regional Center’s function room, and before their aimless and ultimately fatal drive, Farook and Malik stopped for a while at Seccombe Lake Park. No one knows why they went anywhere in those few short hours; maybe they drove to the park to dump a laptop, or mutually recriminate about the bombs they didn’t manage to set off, or gaze a final time on the murky lake and drop breadcrumbs for the surly ducks and geese.
Seccombe Lake opened in the more hopeful 1980s and has become an expensive dilemma for San Bernardino’s public works department, especially now that the years’-long drought has killed grass and stressed trees and the city is functionally bankrupt. The city threw a parade to move the magnolia in 1989; now groups form to raise funds for playground equipment and the occasional volunteer brigade to paint over graffiti with prettier designs. On normal days the park is a strange and desolate place, populated by a small group of campers-out and shooters-up, a billboard in landscape form for how difficult it is to have nice things. This bleak but brave spot is one of the last places Farook and Malik saw in this life, and when I sit there on a bench, staring at that sad little playground, I hope their daughter never has to navigate the splintery teeter-totter and sun-blasted dinosaur slide.
Russian has an untranslatable word, chelovek, which means “person,” or “human being,” but in a warmer, more subjective way than English can express. In Stalker, for example, Stalker’s wife talks about him getting “real, human work,” becoming a normal man who looks after his family and doesn’t venture into the uncanny Zone anymore. In “Story of an Unknown Man,” the revolutionary Vladimir Ivanych has a few short weeks, after he abandons his terrorist mission and runs away with the woman he loves, to revel in nature and culture and his chelovek-iness. Back in Russia, knowing he will soon die of tuberculosis, he is tormented by the fate of his dead beloved’s illegitimate daughter. Little Sonya belongs by law to Nadezhda’s husband and by nature to the repellent Orlov, son of the reactionary judge who was Vladimir Ivanych’s intended victim, but only Vladimir, who has no claim on her, loves the child. “It’s not a pug dog, but a human being” says Orlov, but he doesn’t mean it: Little Sonya is not quite human to him. She will be farmed out to “a kind of kindergarten,” her ultimate fate likely some combination of penury, illness, and harlotry, as Chekhov knew so well.
Above Seccombe Lake, along the horizon, stretch the lovely San Bernardino Mountains; all around are good smells, even in the city, the ornamental tang of loquat and juniper, the evocative whiffs of Fabuloso cleaning fluid, diesel exhaust, wood smoke and damp smog; further up, the tannins and oils of sage and oak and pine. God’s world is good. Concerning the human badness, the Dorner incident and the IRC killings, those send out little drips of news once in a while but are otherwise invisible. Jim’s think tank uses the Dorner case as an object lesson in how rivalries across agencies tangle vital communications.
There are the usual lawsuits and talk of a movie. A childhood friend of Farook’s was convicted for supplying guns, and victims have trouble getting their medical problems treated, despite their status as bona fide victims of actual terrorists. The terrorists’ baby girl, a modern-day Sonya, is at the center of an anguished custody dispute between Farook’s family and a dilatory county Child Protective Services agency, his Navy-veteran brother has pleaded guilty to lying on a sister-in-law’s immigration application – his wife’s sister, a Russian national, not Malik – and the Feds and the life insurance company are trying to withhold a quarter-million-dollar payout from the beneficiary, Farook’s mother.
The couple left behind plenty of chaos and suffering, but an ultimately blurry narrative. Born in Chicago and raised in Riverside by a dysfunctional and not particularly religious immigrant couple, Syed Rizwan seems more like a confused Constantin or Vanya or Dorner than a principled revolutionary like Vladimir Ivanych: a maladapted sorehead, sick of his co-workers’ comments about his religion and very much under the sway of his wife, herself as malevolent as Aksinya, mysteriously Lady-Macbethized in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Like Vladimir Ivanych, who wrote an accusation and a confession to Orlov before running away with the tragic Zinaida Fyodorovna, Dorner explained himself in an angry manifesto, where page after page details the wrongs he suffered during his training and his short career with the LAPD. In Dorner’s narrative, racists, lesbians, and pitiless bureaucrats performed a kind of malign alchemy, transforming an amiable if awkward Navy veteran into a man who would kill two civilians, the daughter of a police captain and her fiancé, in an indirect act of revenge. The captain had been Dorner’s advocate during the process that eventually separated him from the LAPD; Dorner thought he’d not defended him with enough energy, he decided the game was rigged.
Dorner’s public story began when he posed, strong and beautifully groomed, for a picture in his LAPD uniform for the first time; Farook’s when he glowered in the background as his new bride threw back her veil for the camera at Los Angeles International Airport customs, the endlessly repeated image of the pair, their one moment of mutual visibility, the latter-day equivalent of the bullet-riddled gangster’s roadster, the bodies laid out in the dust.
Disgraced and repudiated, unconsoled by Vladimir Ivanych’s affection, Zinaida Fyodorovna takes a fatal dose of poison just before giving birth to Sonya. Tashfeen Malik drove straight into a police roadblock just after she had her baby girl. Dorner’s first victim was the daughter – grown, successful, ready to begin married life – of the man he blamed for his failure as a cop. When Aksinya kills Lipa’s baby, Lipa gives a shriek the likes of which no one in the town had ever heard.
The oak seedlings in my yard have become a nuisance. I pull them up by the bucketful. One Tree of Heaven has resprouted; time to call the poisoners.
I still keep a map of the Santa Ana River drainage, its upper reaches roughly my old beat, taped to the wall. It begins below the wet-side divide, near the Eye of God at Baldwin Lake, down to Seven Oaks where Christopher Dorner met his end, past the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino where Rizwan Farook’s co-workers held their Christmas party, through Irvine where Dorner stalked his first victims, on into the Pacific. Tributary creeks, City, Lytle, Mill, Temescal, Cucamonga, San Timoteo, flow mostly underground; where the water surfaces they invite ever-larger crowds of campers-out and coolers-off. Slow-moving white pickups contain representatives of water agencies and spring-tappers who unchecked will draw down the aquifer, dry up wells, and kill trees for miles up- and down-stream.
Last February I sat in yet another church-hall meeting listening as yet another hydrologist explained how a proposal to sell off “excess” water was the usual nonsense; bottled water companies are always poking around up here looking for a cooperative rights-holder, and once they have hold of a spring, they don’t let go.
A housing tract perches on the edge of Boca de Cañon where Highway 38 drops into the congested valley, the prime spot for wrecks and fires to close down traffic in both directions. Someone bladed and graded it right before the recession, and a decade later they’re finally putting up the usual sand-colored slump block walls. Everyone who lives there will have to turn left onto the highway. Red streaks of phosphate fire retardant from the summer blazes still mark the slopes. The hills are bald of vegetation, ready to wash down to the flats, and the San Andreas has jolted a gap in the hillside opposite, taking what looks like a big bite out of the ridgeline. We’re looking at three of the four Fs, at least, and they’re surely on a well or a fossil-water reservoir that will struggle to keep the eventual ice plant and bottle palms alive.
Building houses along a narrow state highway, at the base of a fire-ravaged hill, makes so little sense that it’s a kind of reverse illustration of Seccombe Lake, vandalism in the form of a luxury development, neglect in the form of permission to improve. This is how the money people have gone to tac, how they’re operating on a closed channel and locking down the witnesses. Monitoring and making at least partial sense of the process of pillage and destruction is a full-time job. I know: it used to be mine.
“How little justice and humility there is in us, and how poorly we understand patriotism,” Chekhov lamented in a letter, still raw and overwhelmed by the beauty and suffering he’d seen in Siberia. He himself was suffering, would suffer, from tuberculosis, from hemorrhoids, from the overwhelming sense that there was too much to do in too short a span. “The newspapers tell us we love our great homeland, but how do we express our love? Instead of knowledge we have insolence and arrogance, instead of work – indolence and swinishness…”
Lovers of the homeland love nothing beyond the uniform, the uniform that adorns cruel authority, that imposes control, Chekhov wrote. A violent man may love his family, but his love does them no good. I’m not just a landscape painter, not just a cataloger of pleasant smells and pretty views by moonlight, Chekhov’s flawed writer Trigorin muses in Seagull, I’m a citizen, a patriot – but he ruins the ingénue Nina’s life by trying to improve it. Dr. Astrov plants trees, but botches a surgery. Chekhov the scientist knew how much work it takes to plant trees and keep young people from lives of misery; Chekhov the consumptive knew how little time is left.
Illuminated by a Hunter’s Moon, the precious trickle of Mill Creek gleams like a thread of mercury among the pale-gray boulders, tumbled round by centuries of floods. Grizzly Bill Holcomb, the first lawman in these mountains, hunted Ursus arctos to extinction in the Bear Valley. Tippecanoe Avenue, which runs to the east of the IRC, is named after his home county, back in Indiana. The grizzly’s former range is now populated by Ursus americanus, a smaller species, too small to seriously threaten anything bigger than the neighbor’s trash can.
Even without the rain, the yerba santa resin drifts its aroma in the nighttime humidity. The native people of this canyon used yerba santa, Eriodictyon californicum, also called consumptive’s weed, bear weed, mountain balm, for colds, for tuberculosis, for hemorrhoids. It grows perfectly at this elevation.
When the highway was a control road, people chained skid logs to their axles to avoid plunging over the side. People have always loved it up here, the acorn-grinders, the reveling bootleggers, the lumber-dragging motoring adventurers. The cops blew up a moonshine still back in 1929; you could hear the explosion for miles around. On the boardwalk in Venice Beach, entrepreneurs who forage on our mountains bundle up sticks of sacred sage, Salvia apiana, so that visitors from Germany and Germantown, China and Chicago, may send pungent Serrano prayers skyward. A mosque from down the hill is holding a weekend retreat at the church up the road camp and cooking a vast curry I can smell from half a mile away, on top of a whiff of skunk in the back yard, or maybe just one of the neighbors medicating his paranoia.
Along the old control road, by the side of Bluff Lake, the lemon lilies sleep underground, and the world’s biggest Lodgepole Pine sends its roots further into the water table, while the water is there. Down the mountain, an orphaned metal plaque commemorates the lost magnolia as though it were still alive: the century of history that took place under its spreading branches, the community effort that saved it from the developer’s bulldozer. It was, the developer told the newspaper, the ugliest tree he had ever seen.
Alisa Slaughter’s essays, short fiction, and translations have appeared most recently in Santa Monica Review, Poetry International, and Kettering Review. Her collection of short fiction, Bad Habitats, was published in 2013 by Gold Line Press. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MA in comparative literature from the University of Arizona, and teaches at the University of Redlands.