journal that wanted to be a poem. maybe it is.
when was it true. where. why say it, when I mean me.
an easy search. one greyhound bus ride away.
over the low bowed western brow, to coastal plains. artichokes by the bucket. Fort Odd, when moms and dads come to visit sons in their basic training. two colors only. olive green for people. somber yellow buildings.
all dressed the same, marching, shooting guns, leaving poison in the sand for their children to find. insane.
freedom. released. that greyhound steps foot into a small coastal town.
a corner shop selling magazines and candy, and yea, where the busses stop. end of the line.
I thought it was the beginning.
driver opens the belly, gets out a suitcase, maybe two. oh that smell of diesel fuel. says, come away with me. taxi rolls us and baggage downhill to Lovers Point, mere smattering of blocks, part vertical. Borg’s Motel, as close to water & rocks as one could get. a room, second floor.
settle quickly, children have no time to waste.
cross the street hugging the coastline edge. a lawn, some swings, cinderblock public restroom, plants so content they mended themselves through the seasons. air, wet ocean breath. twisted coastal pines, the older, the more inspired, beautiful. couples, families, children, tourists, some bring food to picnic tables and fire pits. ground squirrels keep close watch, gulls too. the pathway is hard sand. here’s the choice.
right, goes down in steps to a beach where moms and youngest children sit and play. left, all rock, growing out of itself, leaning half on its side, wishes intertwined with salt water feet. we are arrived.
narrative here is eyes closed. I see, no matter what.
take a breath. one more. which first. memory or photograph. blended.
another truth. this moment I’ve nothing better to do.
do I have your ear.
a dull worn red painted bath-house adjoining the public swimming pool.
if you didn’t dare the ocean, you dared here. above the bath-house a family restaurant. we ate there from time to time. owned by this French lady, an accent like just off the boat. sweetie & dear, common means of familiar address. maybe she’d come, visiting at the table with you. it was just that kind of world, and time – and person.
outside and down, a beach hamburger shack. best salmon burger – ever.
but that was years later. one more set of steps and sand and beach and the most gentle harbored waves. stepping in deep dry sand you stagger some.
mothers had no fear of their childrens fate. water as cold as Aleutian Islands only slightly warmed. but kids don’t turn blue, only adults.
maybe seven years in age, maybe 1952. if old enough you know how much time turns its hand. even the same is not the same. a thousand details change. now memory needs be telescopic. then again, I’ve returned so many times it all looks like this. mirrors.
- John died here decades more after this. his song said,
All this joy, all this sorrow
All this promise, all this pain
Such is life, such is being
Such is spirit, such is love
observing with a right kind eye.
if you want to see into dark, then you be darker. thus
dark becomes Light. thus the glass bottom gondolas.
draped around your window a dense curtain does the job.
no motor, no disturbance. clarity invites engagement
below. fish between seaweed fronds, tall as a tree.
crabs with one big claw. starfish colors speak out loud.
I’ve decided, more better than a zoo-ish aquarium.
let observer observe, not imprison. kindness is just
this much intimate. (sadly we lost our way, allowed
those boats to dissipate.) gone to dust.
our relation however was tangential. I rode & looked.
remember now. this photo is slender hint for you.
so many desirable things that could be true.
the point of this is.
better to look at the world through the lens of a glass bottom boat.
this is. this isn’t.
what if I am neither. what’s the third in-between.
grey is not the answer to black and white. is polar even right attitude.
or is that, altitude.
what is, is that.
I tried to pull the water with me when I left. didn’t work.
I’m here, dry. no matter how much I wanted to steal one good idea.
a usual course of thought. this and that. but water, it is just one thing.
ten fingers make two hands, two arms, one body. the same. it’s me.
what’s it mean. being broken, but connected, continous. I don’t know.
is it another lie.
time changes everything.
more accurately if less poetic, everything changes and we call that time.
Monterey Historical Society
image: primary beach, Pacific Grove, 1907 (way before my time).
my time began about 1952, but in a way, I never left since, child or adult.
please keep it to yourself. a secret. being born into quiet water with
swan glass bottom gondola boats. like Light inside the water.
suspended from the sky, head in the sea.
and yep, still no question marks. not my taste. I insist. but just for me.
John (above) means, John Denver. good eye.