Thrown Back in the Surf
Before the sense of self
there must be some surroundings.
In my green blue days of youth
the Valley was a smog-wrapped bubble,
a satellite apart, a cushion-edged suburban haze;
my gaze as long as my viewpoint, my viewpoint long as my gaze.
Los Angeles proper, Westside, and East LA all figments more than figures.
Once, in a pique of daring I tried taking the 761 bus to the ocean, Santa Monica in mind
I had counted exact change. I had worn a bathing suit underneath, the strap dark blue
below my pale pink scrunch top. I had planned to be anonymous and successful.
I had planned. And yet, as the bus swept past the mountains off the 405,
as the bus left behind my San Fernando Valley, I cracked.
Just before UCLA, just past my last visible landmark,
I disembarked. I spent the afternoon amid the shelves
of Powell Library. Shallow shoals I had explored before,
safe in an afterschool context, a carpool arrangement.
Bathing suit still dry, change useless in my hands.
Walking the Beach on New Year’s Day
Nothing like a windswept beach in winter.
Sheer elemental power, no
beach umbrellas or chairs in primary colors,
no drip castles, no molded castles, no
reddening tourists dipped in zinc.
Just high tide to menace and
a whipping wind to strip me pure.
A new year’s ritual, to bathe in gusts of sand.
Reborn in surf, replenished like the tide.
Soon I will go home. Soon I will turn back,
to an apartment and an electric bill, to the peril
of four way stops. But, for just a little longer now,
a small cluster of sandpipers plunder the water-darkened sand.
The wedges of ice plant are green and fat, the purple flowers gleaming.
The ocean a jade colored song. The unrestrained wind is dancing.
Diana Love is a poet and short story writer, somewhat working on her first novel. Her work has previously been published in Literary Mama, and she is a current MFA student in the low-residency program at UC Riverside. Diana grew up amidst the inanities, adventures, and mundanities of the greater San Fernando Valley. She is currently on the Westside, where she is a co-lead for the Westside Chapter of Women Who Submit. She is an excellent whistler.