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Where We Recur

By Allison K Gibson

The tide is moody, all highs

and lows.

On damp knees,

it crawls onto land, nails scratching at sand,

until it changes its mind and lets go.

Sea wall spray paint says locals only,

but for the right price we'll take your sorrow.

Sally sells her seashells down by the seashore.

For fifteen more,

she'll swallow.     

A brawl in the breakers

breaks somebody's nose.

Locals cup their hands

and paddle flat past the red sea.

It's wild, this high tide: anything goes.   

Now here come the tourists, ringing bells on rented bikes.

Ding-Ding-Ding, they sing,

California is not what it seemed,

not the screen saver on my desktop machine.

They'll never know why.

But we do not mind this mess;

do not wonder when the fog will lift.

This is a desperate place, a summer haze,

where everyone leaves

and everyone stays.

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