Pelicans pulse the air,
glide low over the ocean.
Surf trembles, trenches the pebbled shore,
saw-toothed rocks disappearing —
tide coming in. Salt coats my throat,
and two crows argue with the wind.
California summer. 62 degrees and spray soars,
foam sliding back into the sea.
Wind gusts my hair,
but a stillness inside calls you to mind.
City girl, gritty smile at school.
That first year you trudged to the cafeteria
bag hunching your shoulder,
hands plunged in pockets, chin rammed into scarf.
But you belly-laughed at our jokes,
teased as we trumpeted our loves,
recited poetry under the trees.
Too soon, you slouch in a small white room
shrouded in sheets, heart bleeping on a screen —
four walls your horizon.
The language of friends binds you
to the outside world until an ancient alphabet
sings you home.
A flock of gulls chuffs at the shoreline.
One steps out, catches the wind. A crow follows.