Letter from NY to her, the unbeliever in California

The broken Vs of the too-late geese
leave space for the gone ones which
would have blackened the sky.
This is the season of flight.

I did go to California, you know.
More than once
I walked on warm dirt,
up firm mountains which were neither Greek nor tragic
but were blessed with enough rain to let the grass grow
and the salmon run and the fires eat away the dead.
Each time I left for California
I was skeptical that I would arrive there.
Hasn’t it always been the horizon,
almost visible, always distant?
Riding in strange vehicles with strange men and women
I would consider the myths which had encased it in my mind;
free gold, free land, legendary freedom.
How unlikely, I would think,
and begin to plan my escape back north,
where the fog and the chill
and the lonely streets and the silence
were all very real.
We are different, however,
because when I finally set foot on the shocking red earth there
I believed in its mundane reality, knew I had arrived,
however temporarily, however unfree.

This is the season for learning
to grit the teeth with love.
For remaining joyful while solitude is blowing thru;
for coming together in our God-given loneliness.

In California I was alone with the place
and with my love for it.
My mind was clean and stark,
hopeful, and I thought that when I returned
I could bring some of it back,
like an image from a dream carefully penned upon waking.
But the place where we are will not accept sun or sand
or promises which all seem mythical.

So I am glad for you to be there,
disappointed and not surprised that you can’t send proof of its persistence.
That kind of word doesn’t come here this season,
and right there is the question,
and I don’t know the answer.

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