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Northern California


Bulbous ropes of kelp the tide stranded.
Sandstone sea-break cliffs; eucalyptus groves.
A hammock strung between redwoods.

Up-scuffing dust with the pointy tips
of my riding boots, walking down to the barn
at camp, the Montecito-Sequoia Camp for Girls.

Lifting the canvas flap and leaning out
of the top bunk in my flannel nightgown
to whiff cold air and be dazed by stars.

Shiny saw-toothed leaves of the live oaks
scattered through hills tawny with foxtails.
Camellia bushes; oleander; bougainvillea.

A bluff of salt-pocked Monterey cypresses
twisted in the same configuration, like ’50s teens,
the boys, with windblown ducktail flattops.

No sooner had I finally let on to myself
that this was my psyche’s landscape
than it burst into hellish unquenchable flames.



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