In this visitation your silent h's
soften the palate to mother-of-pearl. You are
as quiet as my grandfather. As fate

would have it, you're Portuguese and mutter
the Latin mass in your sleep, through your nose. As you would
your twenty acres of alfalfa after the first fall rain

you smell the ocean or its headless
abundance stranded, not-quite-dead. The sweet marisque blows

miles inland at night with the fog, over Pacheco Pass
to the hot valley, the brackish irrigation canals. Smells come easier

than sounds--the kelp bladders pop
under your Red Wings, the sea lions bark
their hauled-out positions. It's once again

a minus tide in a month with an r. You crowbar
off a red nine-incher and plop it into a galvanized bucket
of salt water. A single foot to be pounded

to astonished edibility, the green guts going
to the farm cats, the shell to grow a garden

of hens-and-chickens, nailed to the dream
of a loquat tree.

:: B. Long, in Alaska Quarterly Review
(V 10, No 3 & 4, Spring/Summer 1992)

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