At Pescadero Beach

I have never seen silky beach pea before today.

Or, I have, but didn’t care enough

to stop and name the colors — violet, white,

olive, to press finger to petal,

to see its fine hairs

like the hairs on the back of my hand,

my cheeks, and listen to Brian tell me

that hair is hair, and we are all related.


Then I saw more —

its shaky footing on the sand,

the encroaching ice plants and horned sea rockets,

the tidal waves of footprints,

the sickle of wind mowing them low to the earth.


At five-foot, six-inches, I stand, low,

but I’m no extended metaphor for this beauty,

only an allusion to a time long ago

when our lines crossed,

where we intersected

in some genetic game of pickup sticks

and unstranded into man and plant,

each a molecule of the other.


Today, this beach pea teaches me how to walk

among these living hearts beating in tongues of color

to a music

that returns me to myself,


by Paul Totah


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