When I was born, some strung out hippie chicks from next door
crowded our second story studio, and caught me up as I flew out. Heat
and big blue firewheels, great sky blooms and raring red chargers glinted off my new skull,
were no louder than my high cries or a Daisy Cutter dumb bomb, a Rockeye cluster bomb.
No firework was more beautiful
than my toothless mews, my dark throat with its bubbling cyst ripe for slicing, or the rush
of my first breath full of charcoal and tenderloin, of mustard and relish, of seaweed and salt.
I was too early for an ambulance. I was on time
for a celebration so loud, so demanding it drove my father AWOL
that morning, before her lightning labor.
He marched for hours. Stalked by the bloody Christ from his unit in Viet Nam, he marched for hours
along the ocean boardwalk through Venice, Santa Monica, the Palisades,
up Wilshire, through Hollywoodland, and back down Sunset, towards PCH—till the works hit, lit, blew,
and he hid under an onramp for seven weeks. I was the enemy for seven weeks.
And only the enemy, the one who sent him to war, can pray him well—can say: maybe
he marched fast along the length of Sunset, and passed PCH traffic before the crayola shelling,
tried his way homeward and caught a gleam of liquid luster lifting over bobbing heads
along the boardwalk, the burnt and the capped and the braided
and the shaded on the boardwalk. Maybe
a roller skater in a turban and beard bent down to tighten a lace, caused a rupture in the crowd
and a breeze ambled through that rupture, through to my father who began to amble too
towards the tan expanse of sand, that soft shattered rock,
where he dodged Frisbees and volleys and slathered-toddlers clutching conches,
where he was blinded by the setting in the Pacific, by the ebbing glow that drew him
towards a cresting foam, his flat palms rippling the brine, gliding over the pacific
as it washed away his toxin, his horror, and drew him under
and through to a momentary embrace