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My Own Piece of California

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Nothing looked the same—
Or maybe everything did? I couldn’t tell.
It had all blurred together over time.

Seven years of clinging to those memories,
the steep drive up the canyons,
the smell of fire and salt on my skin.

Sand was stuck to me eternally,
or so it seemed at the time—
there was none left last time I checked.

In fact, there wasn’t much of anything,
anymore.
No birthday cards, no letters, no contact.

Just a blanket of guilt, draped over me
by their subtle, stealthy severing
of the ties that once bound us.

I slept with that blanket for seven years,
it enveloped me every morning, every night,
until I ripped it off. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I knew the ties would be hard to mend—
the threads of love are fragile.
I knew they would be hard to mend,

But I also knew that the blanket
would swallow me whole,
if another minute escaped me.

So I sat there peering through
the smudged window of the plane,
at palm trees, rolling hills hiding the canyons.

And there they were, aged quite a bit,
but familiar, nonetheless.
They told me their secrets.

I’d been too young before, too young
to hear of the hell they called
a childhood.


We would sit on the beach,
those intimate smells of fire and salt,
making their home in my skin once more.

I would listen as they questioned me,
Where have you been all these years?
Did you even care? Do you even care now?

I said I did, and as they spewed questions,
I spewed apologies—
I spewed tears.

The tears’ salt was gathered by my skin,
my skin submerged in the Pacific,
the two blending together,

Since the size of the salty ocean
was as big as the pool of salty tears
I could’ve cried.

Their skin was weathered now.
I could trace the freckles,
a map of their life.

And as I was lifted into the sky,
my sea of tears churning below me,
I noticed faint freckles on my forehead.



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