Five Days

I’m in California.

Is that even right? Morally, I mean. It must be, as there are people all around me, most notably my dear friends Paul and Tracey and their girls, by whose invitation I made my way to this Really Outrageously Beautiful place. They, and others, are here, and don’t seem to sense any moral compunction about not being here, or otherwise.

Still, it is So Good that it hardly seems fair.

I’m not to be writing here now, though. And this might be the source of some– if any– moral un-ease. Yes, I’m to be writing elsewhere, and writing Other Things, and will return to that shortly.

But before I go, I thought I would give you this. A poem, sent me by my sister Emily, who is privy to more poetry than most and earlier than some because her husband, along with some others, publishes a poetry journal called Slope Editions. Emily sent me the poem I will copy here shortly.

But before that, let me tell you that yesterday Paul, Tracey, Hannah, Lauren Alanna and I drove to Montana de Oro, which is a forest of eucalyptus trees that opens out on a sandy bluff that spills down to the Pacific Ocean, just to the south of Morro Bay. For someone whose sense of the ocean is almost completely restricted to experiences of the Atlantic, the very view of this great expanse of water was enough to make me want to sit quietly and look at it for hours. And we did sit and look at it.

Then we went down to the rocks and peered into tidal pools. I saw the smallest hermit crabs I have ever seen in my life and Paul caught a Very Large red crab in his shirt, then displaced it into a smallish tidal pool where he (the crab) was unable to hide from us. The girls each got to hold large purple (!) starfish, and this provoked some conversation about the regenerating capacities of starfish and their arms (Lauren Alanna’s starfish was in the midst of that very process on two (2) counts).

And then Paul and Tracey played frisbee and the girls and I climbed and climbed and climbed a sandy bluff, the experience of which was Very Taxing on the legs as the climb was very nearly vertical and the sand, while giving purchase eventually, had the tendency to Slide Out From Underfoot.

After which it was all about running down this nearly vertical slope and feeling the sand give way (just so much) under foot. It was about watching the sand spill down over itself when moved by one’s feet. It was about the miracle of Not falling down and the enormous strides one imagined oneself was taking as one went leaping (so one imagined) down the hill. It was about laughing because one could not help doing otherwise. It was about very willing and energetic re-climbing, because the going down was Just That Good. And it was about standing still for moments at a time, watching the shoreline curve away up toward Morro Rock and listening to the curled wash of the water echo back onto itself as the sound raced its way up the bluff. It was about wishing my family was there and knowing at the same time that I was with family– if not the usual ones.

Can it be that I am going home tomorrow?

Thank you, Paul and Tracey and girls, for this.

HEEDLESS
Perhaps we love the shore
because the debris here could not be ours
no matter how hard our lives.

Or because the long shelf of land
continues on under the water
so even here at the edge

of the world the edge is uncertain.
Perhaps we love that the water rises
to uncertain levels leaving

and returning. We may love
the shore as we love the madwoman
who repeats the same phrase

endlessly, as we love the dying
who go on living, the traveller
who promises return.

Here, just here, we leave
no mark. Spume renders footprints,
castle, cry the same.

It’s all the same
what we say to the traveller,
the dying, the madwoman:

Come back, I love you, come back.

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