Honored to your coast in the month of floods. Wondering if your November is giving or grieving. Yellow cedar and Douglas fir too young and contradictory to be hosting lichen elders and voluptuous mosses. I listen for hope among the ferns. A sapling has me believing I can hear Juan De Fuca one thousand years away. I fever-chill-sweat drip onto clean slices of foot-fallen nurse-logs. Decay takes quick to windshear shards, slows at saw blades like redwood summer spikes. Leaves us with our insult to rest and pat on our hike. Look what we’ve done, we watch ourselves pass by, worn too many layers, packed ourselves in too tight.
On the long beach out of Ucluelet I’m taken by the tide ankle rip of whalebones and capsized ships. Magnetic pleisto-scene swipes of Amphitrite’s disappearing ink. Quadra sand sirens from that gray giver of killers. Impatient artist and architect. Bleaching knitted lumberyards of ancient arthritis. Junkyard sanctuary for a washed-up monkey wrench. It’s the least I can do to turn my back on her moaning. I haven’t earned the honor to be part of her mess.
Back in the car, deboned of polyester, I tell you I failed to see our reflection in her breakers. Did I blame it on the long road or the short sun? What I mean is, did she steal my memory when she saw me jotting it down on the phone?
There’s fog on the window now, she’s filled us with her last laugh. There’s yeast and salt in the air and I crave its brackish bread. I want wheat ripped and dipped in a hot bowl of cold-grown buttery peas. I want to smell the tendrils and filaments of your old country town. What a fool’s romance to believe you have something left in store for me. So we ferry to your big city where I can bear the damage that’s been done. Could it be I’ve become in equal measure, the need of glass, steel and concrete? Could it be, when you want it all, it’s a sign that something’s missing?
On Kingsway we find banh mi and tea for our bread and caffeine craving. Wanting won’t stop now that we’re back in the city. Its hair trigger switch of skyline and skin temptations. Its waiters of vellum and plover. Biceps stroked by calligraphy tattoos. I see from this arm he must be an artist. Just as he knows the cotton touch of a fresh sketchbook. Sharing too long on a receipt, I instruct him—take no love from me. Hand over the parchment-wrapped sandwich—expert at endings. Do not cross the rubberband border to the departure of my finger. I want none of this dark-eyed danger. Yet, I’ll forever wonder what that black brushstroke means. The tails of its letters will have me dreaming of seconds. As I slip through tomorrow’s border, longing for the coastline of your disappearing ink.
Bradley David’s poetry, fiction, and essays appear or are forthcoming in Terrain, Allium, Exacting Clam, Stone of Madness, Anti-Heroin Chic, Fatal Flaw, Always Crashing, Unstamatic, and others. His work can be found at linktr.ee/bradleydavid. On Twitter @strangecamera and Instagram @mystrangecamera. He lives in Southern California by way of the Great Lakes Midwest.