San Francisco Bay Park, Dusk by Carol Barrett

Pink clouds camp out along the far shore.
They are the homeless ones, who live here.

Roots of trees ripple the path, trunks roiled
at the base, as if with great cancer. They lift

their thin arms overhead, and survive.
Egrets bury their bony beaks in wet sand.

Gulls prance near the water line, tracing
the squiggles and bends. They have grown

used to the rolling thunder of planes,
which slide through the clouds like pages

of a fairy tale, turning in the leaf-light
breeze. Here and there, planted markers

denote public shore, reminding us
each one is free to be here, each

free to travel to a new world. Inside
a grand hotel, rafts of students gather

to begin their journey, protected,
for now, from uncertain winds.

They are flying visions, faint as first
stars. They are massaging dreams

in rooms where teachers listen, pause,
laugh, and cry, circling the heart’s compass.

When they touch their fingers together
like the partnered bridge of Virginia Reel

memories swell — the seventh wave,
sudden, full. Now they are breakdancing

twists and turns of the mind. Already,
visions are dressing themselves

in clay or silk, blue feathers, or beads.
This is a place of launch. Few here

call this city home. We have dropped
our moorings, let the waves be guides.

We have come from the everglades,
from long winters in Kansas, the fog

of Seattle lights, the high desert
where Coyote howls at the moon.

We have come knowing there is no
return, only the moment

when the curled bark of an old
madrone peels itself loose

and the tree and the seeker are one.

 

 

Carol Barrett holds doctorates in both clinical psychology and creative writing. She coordinates the Creative Writing Certificate Program at Union Institute & University. Her books include Calling in the Bones, which won the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies including JAMA, Poetry International, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, and The Women’s Review of Books. A former NEA Fellow in Poetry, she lives in Bend, OR.