Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What it is to live so small

 photo Elk1.jpg

Elk

We come into town slightly ravenous
for something not just from the deli,
not for what we have brought with us,
but something else entirely. A tomato
and pricey yellow mustard no one
in towns south or north or east of
here would ever ask this much for.

Pinned to a small shelf of shoreland,
the tiny town holds a history considerably
larger than its name, all of it tucked neatly
away within the walls of its even tinier
visitor’s center hugging the two-lane
road that runs one-way in and out of
sawmilled lumber and settler stories.

The woman is nice, takes my gentle
ribbing well and in the spirit with
which good meats are prepared for
patient grilling. She’s from southerly
lands, too, and we ask what it is to
live so small among redwoods, ocean
cliffs, and inquisitive passing spirits.

 photo Elk2.jpg

Her answers fit both her size and ours,
make sense for what passes for time
here as we ogle rusted bandsaws and
anchor tackle, framed maps contoured
with lines that connect to where we are,
muse over a sad piano whose mute keys
have sung and known far better days.

Outside, the former postmaster offers
us a postcard with the 95432 zip code
printed prominently over a photo she took
of the building with a few redwoods spiked
in the near distance running up along an
empty ridge where so many were taken,
so many great giants mercilessly felled.

We stake out lunch at a picnic table overlooking
a wild Pacific. We have been here before as it
feels like home, though we cannot remember.
Too far down our ghosted tails to trace why
they want to celebrate this return, but enough
vertebral echo to fill in the missing reasons
why we never want to leave on feet again.

Joseph Gallo
August 26, 2013

 photo Elk3.jpg

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