Chaparral Ocean

You could walk into any one of the canyons and never walk out:
Trabuco, Santiago, Modjeska, Live Oak.
Driving down old El Toro road,
I tell the little girl in my belly
there are no witches in these canyons.
The scrub oak shade is not haunted today.

She grew up in the Saddleback shadow. She lived off new El Toro road.
The part of the road that is lined with coffee shops,
fast-food chains, and movie theatres.
The part of the road that has three lanes on each side.

At the edge of the canyon system the biker-bar with the rows of chromed Harleys
still serves burgers and Bud.
On Sunday afternoons Mother and Father would take Jake and me
to get malts at the bar.
Father would talk with the bikers.
He sold his Harleys to buy a little box with windows.

I drove down the west coast to be with my mother.
The old nurse reminded me that I was born in this hospital.
The smells of hospital are different on each floor.
I slept in a cot next to her bed each night.
Each day I waited for the lullaby
to trickle out of the hospital intercom.
Another first breath.
I asked the nurse why there is no song for death.

The death song might sound like the wind rustling through the scrub oaks.
I drove the 1500 miles home,
drove down old El Toro road,
through my chaparral ocean,
to new El Toro road,
stopping at the sea.

A bird does not think hard on her migration.
She flies until there is something familiar in the air.