glass beach, fort bragg, ca
I stand in this moment as if it is
a shallow pool among rocks, and I am
watching waves rush from horizon.
How so much movement is stillness, how
so much sound becomes peace -
that overbearing roar between marine
layers and cold sand...
I have forgotten
I am here at all, and as ocean crashes
against scarred rocks, I too am marred
by seafoam and wind.
There is a certain coming-together
that happens here, the way beach glass
sparkles as the sun burns away
gray sky, and the water churns,
relentless, and eventually it all begins
to feel like breathing, like being
alive with the sun’s reflection stretching
further and further toward me
like a hand in comfort.
Go West, they said, carry your weary
bones across wind-ravaged plains
and treacherous heights, and rest, finally,
at the edge of the world : observe
the abyss of ocean as it kisses
the abyss of sky / what greater
love have you witnessed? This is earth
dancing in space with the moon,
the almost angry song of waves, the frantic
cries of birds. Your hands are full of sand
or rock or sea glass, and you are holding
your soul, gritty and resilient, polished
in time. Pour it through your fingers. Watch
the sun become water and fire until your eyes
burn, and you mistake roiling fog for a shroud. /
On the cliff above, trees loom into shadow. They have
withstood fire, and were meant to; their seeds grow
best when burned. You are more driftwood than
rooted tree : you will linger here but not stay.
Go West, they told you, and you did, reaching
volatile water and salt and cold and more
questions than answers. The roar of waves
reminds you of breathing.
some places speak your name
better than people do: they know
your secret name, the one you hide
from strange folk and carry
in the beat of your heart. not even
you know your name – it looks
like the places that call to you,
like little waterfalls and meandering
streams and trees gnarled with age;
you hear your name whispered
in the dry grasses on warm nights,
and you know it’s your name -
of course it’s your name, you are
listening with your soul. those places
remember your name even after you
have forgotten it again, and they
call you to them until you ache
I stand on a cliff:
California fog billows
up from the ocean, bringing
salt and hints of life -
diffused cries of gulls
and fog horns with no
origin. I bathe in white
noise, soul motionless,
hair fluttering. I am
afraid of heights. In this
moment, I am a ghost,
like the sky, like the ocean.
I see nothing but my hands
grasping at clouds. Intangible.
Somewhere below me,
a passenger ship calls out
in short bursts, just as afraid
of sinking as I am.
Dragons come to California
in summer, all hot winds
and fires, smoke hiding
mountains on the horizon.
I wear my summer skin
like armor, shining. I lose
myself in reflections, reminding
memories of girls laughing
at girls for being less
than perfect: I will not be
afraid to sweat. Magazines
don’t understand my beauty.
I am prettier with age, but vain
(women are always vain
when they say those things
men want to say for them).
I say I have become something
I cannot call a self – expanding
like flames in a meadow,
burning until the land is charred.
I will rise from my own ashes
a sequoia, until I burn again,
and I take comfort in knowing
that even smoke casts a shadow.
Tracy Engle is a sort of migratory bird, fluttering between the West Coast and the Midwest for most of her life. She is recovering from a number of chronic illnesses, particularly Lyme Disease and lingering Covid symptoms. Tracy has degrees in English and History with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She has amassed a collection of very unimpressive day jobs, but her passions include writing, photography, and providing unsolicited environmental activism at parties.