Nature Note: The California Poison Oak
Dry summers flaw the leaf to a rose flame
Where, as a vine, it seems to flicker higher
Than live-oaks it consumes, or where it leaps
As a free-standing shrub or tree—ablaze
In wild-oat hay fields. Yet, with winter come,
The stems shrink back and almost disappear
In sinuous tangles, while a few white drupes
That look like snowberries hang to trick the eyes.
Nothing will warn but old experience
The ignorant damp hand that comes to dig
In winter rain the dormant trillium:
Seeking to bring a wild spring beauty home
It finds, as parasitic as a drug,
Pain stinging flesh that brushed the stems but once.