By Philip Levine
We don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.
You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you're thrilled and terrified.
You have to remember this isn't your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.
Everything about my Tuesday in the Outer Banks with my family and dementordelta was fabulous except my internet connection, which is total crap so this must be a quickie (and I know I owe many comments/replies but I haven't been able to read most journals let alone reply to comments in my own). We got up and went to the beach, where there were lots of little jumping fish as well as all the other usual beach life. Then we went to Fort Raleigh in Roanoke, where we had a picnic, watched the movie about the lost colony, and walked to the reproduction fort (which had skinks).
Later in the afternoon we went to the North Carolina Aquarium in Roanoke Island -- there are two other branches elsewhere near NC beaches -- where we saw otters, rays, sharks, a rescued sea turtle baby, snakes, toads, and many fish. We went out for ice cream and walked over to see the Elizabeth II docked in Manteo, then stopped at a big beach store to replace our stolen flip-flops (and bought pirate souvenirs). We went to the beach again late in the afternoon till well past dinnertime, then had Indian food in our hotel room and watched Creation, which was quite sad but I thought Paul Bettany was terrific in it.
Between the hotel wi-fi and LiveJournal still being slow as crap, I couldn't upload photos there. Here are a few I got onto my web site:
My kids by the marker in honor of Raleigh's lost colony and the birth of Virginia Dare.
Here I am with Queen Elizabeth inside the visitor center.
Delta and I inside a shark's mouth -- well, a late shark's mouth -- at the North Carolina Aquarium.
Younger son greets a snake at the aquarium.
Pelicans at sunset over the beach near our hotel.