Go Home, Ocean

You would think that the ocean
would just give up finally.

The coast is our immovable object,
its sand a sliding ruse selling the waves
on a false hope
that they can take back the land—
stretch their sea legs with a walk in the grass,
rise and fall with the curves of the coastal highway…

At least when the ocean shows up
to our mainland party
uninvited, drunk and stumbling
all over the beach, it’s been so
thoughtful as to bring food
(even if it hasn’t bothered to
wrap the fish in the seaweed).
Like last time, we kindly accept the fish
but have to turn the frenzied tide
away because it smells like
the savage ocean and wears no clothes.
Foaming at the mouth, it drains away,
ripping straight out horizonward with
the hooks of a thousand drowning horses,
taking with it our surf boards and wetsuits,
occasionally someone’s car or sunglasses.

Out past the shelf, the ocean strikes
up a little party of its own
attracting only a few
narcoleptic pelicans, who fall like
feathered stones out of the sky
and crash the barrier-reef buffet
while skittish fish refuse to dance
with smiling sharks.

Twelve hours later there’s a sodden knock
at the door and whoever answers it yells out,
“Christ, the ocean’s back again.”
Drunker than ever, it’s slurring its words
and telling us that its party is a hit and it
has only returned because it wanted to remind us
that although it has lost eons of battles of surf
and turf—”I’ve been around longer’n any of you,”
it keeps saying—even though it’s lost epochs
of battles, with each approach it can recall
with lucidity clear as water a time when it had
the full support of its lazy-cold, bipolar brethren
to the north and south, and that with every

little fete and shindig and fundraiser
we put together, it feels itself inching
closer and closer to the shore, closer
to the land and to the freeway, rising,
rising like the tides of a million years ago,
just about ready to tip our pork-laden
tables and throw the sushi on the floor
so it can swim again.  That much closer
to digging its toes in the soil, splashing
over the mountains, filling the valleys,

and singing its sailor song
in what’s left of the waving trees.

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