The Works of Ruth Gooley
The End of Love
The point is empty.
No one here but me,
fogged in and grim,
overlooking the memory of the ocean.
A bird arpeggios and goes flat.
A line of planes hums towards LAX.
A motorcycle whines up Pacific Coast Highway.
A dog barks and another,
carried up from the highlands.
I hear a step.
I turn around to look.
No one’s there.
After the fog burns away,
the sun is hot
on legs bare
face thrust up, eyes closed.
But I feel a chill,
where I sit alone
with a Gala apple
and a silent phone.
You would have thought a tsunami was coming
the way the tide had drawn out so far
towards the thin lip of the horizon,
had obeyed the pull of the setting sun,
drooled on the sand, left wide wet swaths
and a shine like an antique golden jewel.
I passed the pier, a berm, a pile of rocks,
wet tennis shoes smacking in the muck.
A band of greedy seagulls curlicued above,
dissonant and angry, it seemed,
at the loss of the sun, warmth, sand crabs
hunkered safely in their hermit’s lair.
I know the sound that bent wing makes
when air flows past feathers soaked in brine,
another round, another night,
back to the constant worry of the wind,
head tucked away until morning’s flight.
I stepped through a strand of kelp,
its plastic bladders glistening with salt.
Distant waves hummed, dashed out
spray, that tartness that stings
the eyes and hair, sours the face,
and eased the tautness from my aching shoulders.
Two body surfers rode waves,
a pair of snowy plovers dashed about,
dug in the sand, retreated as a sliver of water
slipped through their toes.
A sandpiper, her thin legs like pick-up sticks,
back feathers an abstract cotton
drawing in black and white,
ran from a wave and lost, slogging
through the water wearily, night down.
I know the sound that fragile stick-foot makes
in its struggle with the weight of water,
another round, another fight,
facing the constant worry of the wind,
eyes open to the light.