Henry Coe

Gnarled scrub oak frames the horizon and straw-colored California hills rise to meet a nearly cloudless sky. The hum of a passing plane whines softly, grass stalks gently rustle, bugs buzz. A bird caws. Last night, as dusk settled into the hills, we saw a bobcat, it’s white tipped tail bobbing as it escaped into deeper grass.

We camped by a bog. Was once a pond; apparently is in spring. We woke to November sun radiating in our tent. California, surprisingly 70 degrees, not a sign of fall in sight.

Touching down from Seattle, one pretty evening

A fiery band of light rips across

the ocean like prairie fire, only this prairie

is purple and gently dimpled, ridged.

The Pacific darkens

beneath a righteous sky that glows

fuscia, blood orange, pastel blue

the clouds pocketed magenta strips

that run the length of the great wide ocean

Great West Coast.

The sun dips–fiercely radiating orb drops

the plane wing tilts, shows

a bold half moon arising, the city

twinkling beyond folds and hills of Marin.

A sigh, what a welcome home.

Day’s end, Embarcadero

An orange cable car pauses beneath towering palm tree fronds on the Embarcadero. Seagulls chuckle and caw, perch on the weathered wooded fences lining the pier. Ferry building bells sing six strokes–oh they sound so sweet against the grinding city hum! Two benches over,  a bum in a red baseball cap rustles his bags. His buddy lays on the bench beside him, passed out or drunk or both. A brown gull whines on the concrete beside them. She cries like a wounded dog, her head bobbing as she paces zig zags around a shallow puddle. Without warning, her wings spread, take flight. She hovers just above the iridescent water. Her brown fades to dusk.

The bay shimmers, glassy ripples reflect fading light above, smudge the lines of the Bay Bridge so that its shape becomes a thought of Monet. Across the water, windows of Berkeley Hills homes sparkle, the hills themselves glow red, deep dusky red, seductive and rich yet fading so quickly to brown.