Last Night on Ocean Beach

a brief story, and others

Last Night, it was a beautiful night out on ocean beach. the moon was shining on the water and the line between ocean and sky was a bright blue band. way out on the horizon, a ship was on fire and then others were appearing and then dropping, dropping over the edge. a river of clouds passed over us and my friend saw a blazing falling burning star and turned to me and said, when i was little i never used to squander my wishes on small things like candy and chocolate. i always wished i could live forever.
now i don't.

we had planned to do nothing the entire weekend but sleep and watch rented movies on tv and it was in fact all through the night we slept, but for a span of time in the middle of the night after which the tiny wisp of muriel, who sports even more inexplicably tiny ears, while in her quest for the unfortunately-placed feather toy leapt upon the VCR, causing it to come careening over the dresser and walls and crashing down upon the floor, mounting a catastrophe upon our bizarre dreamworld, and setting off a flurry of tiny little taps upon the ceiling, where the two suddenly-awakened upstairs neighbors' whippets were now agitating vertically in small prancelike format, suggesting the visual of a pair of muriel's freezedried shrimp treats in agitation upon stilted toothpicks.
we couldn't find muriel again till daybreak.
of course, since the VCR was broken, the movies were out.
and then the koi was dead.
after a couple of days, i lay the fish to rest in the ice tray of the freezer.
and tonight that collection of consciousness confuses me.

After wandering way back out
past surprised starfish exposed
clinging to slippery green undersides of rocks
and stripped bare to the rising sensations
now remembering their dreams of foam-dashed rocks
succumbed to sleep,
high storm at sea
once again prepares its home
and rises

they are purple
clumps of purple
upon purple
handfuls of purple.

Because they smell
like springtime

at the edge

of your yard
where they hatch
hungry for sun
and sky
open themselves
like purpled arms.

I gather them
in fill my rooms
with bundle after bundle
of stalking blooms
the color of desert sunsets
the glow of grapes
dusky light

early evening
cabernet in
dusty cellers.

Because the petals
are soft as plums, the inside of
a wrist, as tender
as new bruises purpling
into tomorrow.

Because you brought
them in after the first
time and shook them down
upon the sheets like
a windfall
of purple
pulsing purple
enough violet to turn
limbs into wine.
gathering lilacs by amy crane johnson

[somewhere i have never travelled] somewhere i have never travelled,
gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skillfully,mysteriously) her first rose or if your wish be to close me,i and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the color of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain, has such small hands -e. e. cummings

won't you celebrate with me what i have shaped into a kind of life? i had no model. born in babylon both nonwhite and woman what did i see to be except myself? i made it up here on this bridge between starshine and clay my one hand holding tight my other hand; come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

- lucille clifton