it is heavy june and we lush across an island made of bitter grapes, suckling the seeds from their guts like blood. i am shutters made of wood that’s decided to grow again; my arteries pierce my surface in savage tents of skin. i am the forest that surrounds infection, the unmade doors who swallow such decay. the little girl in the pink dress and the man in the white tank top sit on the church’s steps eating sandwiches. she is blissful but i have not seen it behind my painted eyes. she will lust but i have not felt it like i have felt him, prodding my branches to lick his oiled breath. oh how he aches to taste her sap, sip the sweetness of her aged heart like a fine wine.
[This is two different pieces written in 2009 and 2010 combined into one. Still a work in progress.]
It is plump, sweaty August and I swear no land has ever lain so tragic.
For months we’d waited for this, marking off days on our calendars and studying maps so close that the route numbers etched onto our noses. We were there, speeding north toward San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway, somewhere south of Big Sur. In my mind the black marks on the road ahead were gilded leftovers from Kerouac himself, leading us echoingly to where we’ve longed to be.
And the hills were so tragic, with their bulging frames that roll on forever. The shapes were faces leaking waves made of tears, washing our eyes out endlessly into the green. Just before them are the farms and their hands, bucolic and beautiful with overalls that stretch over their round bellies—we mimicked them later with pillows stuck down our pants. They are guardians of their earth. From where our tires climbed, the dirt in their fingernails was excess paint, their rakes were their brushes, their perfect rows of planted seed their masterpieces. Barns were their private studios. We saw how they weaveed their land, untrained Picassos tracing cubes into the dirt.
Opposite was the Pacific. If you are ever given the opportunity to road trip along the coast of California, grasp it, if only to see the surging Pacific. The swells of land are nothing next to the swirls that lick at the ankles of the steep cliffs whose sudden drops threatened so innocently to pull our car under. A million words for every mile would not be enough. The crashes leave beards of brine clinging to the rocks below, and they vibrate all the way inland to the valleys.
We didn’t know it then, but in three days we would fall in love.
San Francisco lay ahead, cloaked in a constant fog. She was our veiled bride, draped upon the harbor like a quilt made of fluorescents. And for three days she would open herself to us and we would fall in love.
I remember it with your hair in a knot on your head, button-downs and black denim. I have no pictures, but if I did they would show you that way. I remember it in smells, like tar sticking to the air and to my lungs. Simmering pots on the biggest stove I’d ever seen that belched into the air and made us drunk. Fresh pears and lemon from the garden below the back deck and you, sitting above them with a cigar between your lips as it turned to dusk. They all slept inside without us. Your fingers were big and rough and twisted like spiders down the hillside of a city which would never even know our names, bodies attached to your wrists whose only meaning was to find secrets. We drank cold water and looked at the moon. Everything beyond the bay was wood, and so were we.
Now, Highway 1 threads itself out into infinity in front of us, Carmel and Monterey on our map, begging us to discover them too. We are tired and I lean back against the seat as we roll on, away from Frisco. But we hear her chanting after us, drumming in our ears, knocking on the pavement all the way south as we search for the angels.