View from the Headland:
Hare Creek Beach, Mendocino
Except for the gulls, which lift
in languid curves from the sand
and swing back down,
they are the only ones on the beach,
this teenage couple
cutting their afternoon classes.
She is ten feet ahead of him, her shoes
already off, thrown down. Her long skirt
gathered up to her thighs as she enters the sea.
Enters it, as if it had called her,
her white legs flashing in the sun.
And he runs to catch up, puts his hands
on her shoulders and drives her
through the surf. He’s smitten and loopy.
He veers off, flapping, circles back
like a gull, lassoes her around the neck
with his arms, around the waist, twirling himself
around and around the long stem of her body,
pulling and pulling her to him.
And she doesn’t object, she leans right in
as they stagger like drunks
to a warm pocket of sand and fall in.
Do they know they are this beautiful?
His goofy, tender urgency. Her calm
regard and disregard of him as she sits
staring out at the waves, her hand shading
her eyes. As he kneels now, before her,
trying to be the only object on her horizon.
When they kiss, when their faces rise
to the kiss, I have to look away, though
the sea is still rolling, the gulls still crying.
Though the day, it seems should screech
to a halt, all its bright engines jumping their tracks,
this moment held out, separate from time.
But the waves are still blue, the waves
are still pulling and pulling at the sand,
they touch and touch again. The sun is shining,
and he’s coming back to her for more, more kisses,
leaning over her for more, more of the same.
In spring when the garden is sliced and sheared
like fudge, when the earth is scooped,
glistening and sweet as jam on a plate, they glide
out of that dark confection, shocking
in their pink nakedness, their tender lengths
stark and gleaming as sex. The sleek tubes
of their bodies are all undulation and probe,
all liquid under pressure; their work
a gritty industry of digestion: to eat
the dank bones, the dull and matted fur
of beasts and trees, the slathered leaves,
the vegetable marrow, the sallow collapsed flesh
of everything fallen. Three million per acre,
they teem below our feet, pulling their fine,
patient stitches through the thick cloth of ground,
piping all matter through the glue of their guts,
binding the world once more to itself; bearing
its weight on the delicate strands of their muscle.
To pass their way is to go down through the halls
of beginning, to find the seed porch of spring.
The humble parents of green, the truly meek,
they shall inherit us. They shall deliver us.