Bees’ Nest

We found cool,
creeping in the pine and eucalyptus,
stealing through hidden spaces
when the weekdays dragged,
and summer staked a place
on every bleached
beach towel.

I remember following her foot
on fecund earth
like still-damp coffee grounds.
A welt of outstretched limbs,
the taste of shade and sweat
on our noses and our tongues,
and sun and devils in our faces.

Alison was California,
like the copses,
a vein sprung
from subterranean lines
that pushed up trees
and pushed out beaches
into their matrimonial air.

I remember winding by
the Spanish tower
in the bloom of geraniums
always dying.
I remember her smile
after school, a wink
and a disclaimer:
a mushroom invitation,
California sweet and scarlet.

The bees’ nest was a stump,
an old oak, rotted and sealed
and smelling of resin.
Friday morning, off from summer school,
we heaped mud and leaves
to stop the migration of the bees.

Then Alison with a stick
and the rich swarm
that burst from the wood like fluid,
while she cried and cried
and ran with her insect headdress,
pushing me away and crying “Help me!”

I put out my hand to help,
but she was too concerned
with punishment.

The Gulls on Alcatraz

They’ll eat anything,
the Western Gulls on Alcatraz,
so sometimes you can find
on the rocks at the base of the island
or on the cracked and splintered yard
where the cons worked out
tennis balls and bright yellow golf balls
the birds brought over and dropped,
thinking they were mussels or oysters,
some kind of unfamiliar shellfish
the fall would break
and not the crap we lose or toss out,
all things finding their way
to the sea as they do.

And I understand their confusion
when the balls hit the ground and bounce
high in the air, intact and inedible.

I also have made it this far,
tired from looking,
the junk of another world in my jaws

and I also recover,
beat away again across the flat bay,
sure that tomorrow,
on this same slipshod ground,
out of the deep cerulean blue
a bird will land,
the moon in his mouth
and his whole head
shot through with light.