Pajaro Dunes: Family Notebook
The sea’s hungry here, the sand so fine
it clings to the face. Clutched in the fist,
it spills through, falls away like powder. 
I’m reading about the schizophrenias. 
Out here my mind’s its own kind of wild. 
We crowd in the car, drive through streets 
of what could have been: Haute Enchilada, 
Hair’s On. The freeze-dri taxidermy place. 
My mother murmurs in the front seat—
the unborn child, the lost sister. Gone.
And me, born in the shadow of their passing. 
Here’s the story of the life I never lived: 
sandy loam, strawberry fields, rows of berry 
brambles and plump-to-bursting tartness. 
Seagrass and coastal fog. Sometimes they 
talked about it—you would have loved her,
but mostly there was the sense of a soul
slipped off too soon, lost before it had
much life to live. The sea lays a wet stain 
on my mind. Where do we go to meet 
our dead? Where can we find the lost? 
In the measured wild of the taiko’s throb, 
its bachi-bachi beat? Every year, the drums’
staccato punctuated by shouts, the pulse 
that holds us all—dead, living, lost and found. 
I hear it in the pounding surf as my mother 
chases the spray, kite twirling overhead
like a hurt bird through air. The wind’s
swift kick and she’s a child again, hurtling 
across sand. Your arm remembers the feeling,
she says. It’s something you never forget. 
So true. We’ve been lost before on this 
distant shore but still remember our way.
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