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ISSUE:  Autumn 1980
Under a brilliant
12 o’clock sun,
in a vacant field
beside a roadside sandwich stand,
we came upon a thistle
the size of a small child
that seemed as vulnerable and beautiful
as anything we’d ever seen.
We wondered how something so magnificent
had survived in such a place.
Was it a creature from another world,
a trick?

We drove on.
We reached our destination,
a desert-forest coastline,
just as the last grapefruit was falling, very slowly,
to the ground.

Beyond the thistle
lay futility.

It was not the afternoons,
the heat or the humidity.
It was not the woman in the park,
afraid to look up from her Bible,
or the derelict who walked boldly through the sunlight
to wash his shoes at the water’s edge.
It was not the sailboat, capsizing before us,
or the wind that littered the beach with yellow foam.

It was the bay,
it was a longing it released in us
that could find no object, no horizon,
and that found emptiness in everything it touched.

We were in motion,
our eyes were open wide.

We had discovered a new wilderness.


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