I walk along a shore
far inland from the roar
of two great oceans,
the Pacific to my west,
and much farther away,
the Atlantic to my east.
Here is desert land and a foul-smelling, shrinking lake.
Salt retention - the lake's peculiar claim to fame -
attracts the curious few
who test the brackish waters to see if,
floating on their backs, they really won't sink.
Some tread far out toward the horizon,
salt stinging and painting their legs white.
Here now, alone with the sun and resident gulls,
I own this stretch of sand.
Arid heat creates a desire in me
to wade into the coolness of the water,
but nearing pea-green scum, I opt for staying dry.
a small wave appears,
and with it, a splash of water on my legs.
I close my eyes.
For a moment, I'm the wisp of a cloud
drifting above a cool lake big as a sea,
mirroring the azure of sky long ago-
so long ago, in fact-
that I imagine this land right now
-with its few creature inhabitants-
has little resemblance to what was here before.
I ponder what it could have been like
those many centuries before, but I cannot.
Alas, I know very little of science or
of how exactly this area looked or felt or smelled
once upon a time
when it was more water than land.
I know only this:
today it is we that remain. . .
I open my eyes,
conscious again of the remnant water's stench,
and walk to my car,
anticipating my drive back to the city,
with the top down
and hot wind in my face.