3

days like this

There was a gust, once
on a dark and lovely day
and I felt like finally, finally it’s over
finally I can rest
finally think
finally breathe.

I felt myself gearing up to take a breath
(a real one this time,
breathing in the feeling of
finally being safe)
and I put all my hope into it
and it put all it had into me.

We had only just started
and maybe I took too much, too fast
or maybe it gave me more than it had
but either way, that gust has gone, and it
must have tried but it
must have failed
because now
the sun is everywhere and I can’t hide.

Days like this make it hard to believe in autumn.

3

Outspread Wings

The skin of the sky is pastel blue with white fingers of clouds reaching across it. Malibu cuts into it from the north, a gouge of blue and purple, solid and unmoving. The ocean is a few feet from my own, dark blue-green and churning, moving with the kind of wild, uncontained energy that only the ocean knows. Dried seaweed covers the sand in heaps and mounds and shredded bits. There’s sand between my fingers; I pick it up in handfuls, let it slip through and then pick it up again.

The sand and the seaweed and the ocean and the sky, these are the things that are real. I drink them in, cover myself with them, hold on to them. These tiny grains of sand are infinitely older than I am and there’s more of them than there are of me and they don’t care. They don’t care that I don’t eat enough and I don’t have time to sleep and I’m working more than ever and getting paid less. They don’t care that I hardly ever see my friends, or my family, or anyone who matters to me. All I see are strangers, more every day, strangers I know and strangers I don’t and I talk and I talk until nothing I say means anything and not a single one of these grains of sand cares.

Neither do the pelicans, flying in arcs above my head. A group of thirty-three, I count them as they cartwheel up and around, riding the air currents, their outspread wings motionless. They don’t care about my exhaustion, my fatigue and my exasperation at not being listened to, over and over again.

Two men walk by, talking to each other in English accents. I look up as they pass and they smile and say hullo. One has tar on his foot; I see him stop and look at it and then keep going. There’s a man in red shorts playing a trumpet a little ways from me. Standing on the beach in the hot sand, playing a shiny silver trumpet that I can’t hear over the crash of the waves. He surely doesn’t care about my problems. The pelicans circle back over the water and begin to dive. They don’t care about anything that happens to me or the red shorts playing the trumpet or the Englishman with tar on his foot.

The sand and the ocean and the men on the beach and the birds and the sky and the seaweed and all the tiny white seashells don’t care that I have to get up and leave the only place that makes me happy. To go back to work and back to life and back to all of the things I can’t justify dealing with anymore, and then wake up tomorrow and deal with them all over again. I lay here for another moment, skin on sand, arms outspread, trying not to care.