The sea had a fringe of pebbles there,
small ones worn smooth by washing,
long lines of kelp
often twisted together in heaps,
on the gray-brown sand.

Up farther, past the high-tide line,
drift logs, tossed and stacked
in giant piles.  Behind them
scatters of beach grass
ran over low-rolling dunes
a few hundred yards
to the road’s end.

One cloudy day, when the surf was high
and the wind coming down from Mendocino
lifted spray from the tops
of the breaking waves
in misty filaments, I walked
alone into the ocean
in shorts and sneakers
as far as I could stand,
imagining another, deeper life
bound up in this one.

Imagining one day a thousand years
away, a boy like me might
wander down that same path I took
here to where the land begins
and ends, and hearing then, as I do now,
a calling from that other place,
would echo back in terror
and delight, until his voice
became the sound of water
pounding rock,
which was my sound, too.

Hear it:


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