Nothing That Is Ours

 You live here now. Call it home. Times, tides, and straying roads have brought you back. Maybe not by choice, and likely not for long, but isn’t it pretty just the same? A quaint little beach town often shrouded in fog, though vibrant when the sun burns through, wedged between foothills and breakers. It’s a rich man’s playground but mild and kind to the poor as well. History makes itself at home here too. There are painted caves of tribal art, a colonial mission fastidiously rebuilt after a terrible earthquake, a Mission Revival movie palace, and an aged and massive Moreton Bay g tree near the old depot. A mosaic mural on the downtown grocery store chronicles the eras passing from earth- bound Indians to future folk heading out into the cosmos. You live somewhere in between. You come down Castillo Street past Victorians and lath-and-plaster bungalows, drawn by death and water. The road is hilled, uneven, and guttered, lined with oak and then eucalyptus and then palms as you near the highway and the ghost of the old highway. After the park and public pool comes this water. The kids out playing on the beach there are the last of the long California season, warm days spilling into the still warm winter but today the weather seems ready to turn. The children have slung down an inverted metal bucket full of wet sand. They pull away the pail, leaving its contents behind. The column of sand, its form rounded by time and ordinary erosion, stands in the zone between the ocean proper and where the edge of strand lays as yet untouched by foam. The air is sullen and the children crane their heads to see their parents, chatting and smoking up on the rocks, suddenly erupt into waves of laughter. Then the cold water rushes in unexpectedly with its acrid salt smell, and the children run screaming as their little monument melts into the sea.