Simple questions can reap the most conflicted answers.
move asked if I enjoyed living on the ocean's rim. The question
spun in my head for days before this answer emerged:
From the Oregon Coast, in answer to her inquiry
When she asks how I like living on the edge of the earth,
I do not answer right away. On the third dawn, rain arrives,
steady and firm, wears me awake. I cocoon in bed.
In the dark hours, I say cocoon. I make it mean that I am
happy and satisfied in this warm bed with its thick blanket.
But my cold feet want to burrow in familiar softness,
want to know a morning without socks.
I have turned inside myself.
In these four years on the basalt line, I know variations
of mold, beyond the fuzz of overgrown cheese, the kind
of insistent dank that coats every corner, eats every crevice.
And mildew. My sense of smell as strong as sight. The sour
milk of old homes, the odor of wet wood and dirty secrets.
When she asks, I know she wants hope and harmony and the
possibility of every new thing. I know. I asked, too.
On my first visit, I sat under an airbrushed sky, sated on a
soft beach shore. I grew tall, lithe, lean.
Here, I said, I will be a better person.
I did not know irony or hesitation.
Every pore bore happiness.
When she asks, I am lying on the couch,
curled over hot coffee. The air is heavy as stone.
Hundreds of gulls float like confetti across a static sky.
I am fixed, haunted with sadness or fear or illness,
I’m not sure which, and I write letters to friends I no longer
know. My husband brings flowers and rubs a calloused hand
over my lined, tired face. Without words or pause, he is trying
to erase what we don’t understand. And I am eating peanuts
by the bowl, and moaning with regret. And I am driving the
car and crying because it is only in motion that I feel progress,
and only in progress that I remember to breathe, and though I
clutch the inhaler in my sweaty palm, this is not an asthma attack
because attack implies sudden and for weeks my throat closes
around words, my lungs grasp for air.
I call it malaise because with this word, like cocoon, my mouth
goes soft and southern and I am reborn gracious, relaxing on a
wraparound porch, talking in a drawl that pulls us in a warm,
When she asks, I pause, remind myself that we chose this place.
To leave family and friends and jobs and cities and movies and
restaurants and all that seemed too big, too much, too pressing.
All of it crushing us into small, petty people with small, petty
gripes about heat waves and barking dogs and freeways clogged.
When I answer, I will remember how we invited this adventure,
the Uhaul packed tight, our smiles wide and sure as we drove
from everything safe and good and right. We were exploring
what we didn’t know, in a place that would ebb and flow,
test and reward.
I will tell her of light on waves, after days of rain
how the sun meets the shore, breaks me down and apart,
releases something like hope.
And everything is green and fresh and ferns and quiet.
I will offer this: Words cannot explain the beauty
but I keep trying in letters, in lines like this,
in the way I return his grip, grateful, saying,
Yes, I am blue in this bigness.
And still, and still, again and again,
though I doubt and forget,
the sky opens, gulls circle and land,
my heart flutters and expands.
— Drew Myron