Poems about cities #2: Natanya, Eugene, Westport

Morning means sand.

There is sand as in dune,
which rises in folds like a secret world.
Just walk down the road,
past Michal Gerber’s house,
through the sugar cane, a mysterious gateway:
It guards the boundary between Village and Nature.
Here you climb to the top
and roll down and hope
the grains don’t get in your eyes.

Then there’s sand as in beach,
which you have to drive to.
Through Natanya,
with its industrial zone,
stinking so bad
you have to cover your face with your shirt
and wind up the windows.
Past the Goldstar brewery
and its Brobdingnag sized beer can perched in the air.

When you get there
the water is warm and salty
and your dad pulls out his Swiss army knife
with the magnifying glass, takes
a palmful of sand so you can look
close at the different colours,
clear and black and lots of yellow
all adding up to make sand.

The sand becomes
tall palaces with moats and flags.
Then you cross the road,
to the restaurant that serves American Food,
and eat nothing but humus and Iraqi pita.


At noon, it’s all about lichen.

Lichen is green,
it grows in the woods.
But it is not wood green.
It is not pine green or
lime green it is
lichen green.

Climbing up Skinner’s Butte
the lichen hangs off branches,
a lacy cobweb.
Maybe it was left
behind by witches.
Maybe it is woodland
faeries camouflaged, clinging to
the branches with long claws,
just waiting for you to walk away so
they can jump down and play with
the mice hiding in the cones
of Douglas firs,
their tails dangling out.

On the way down you slip
and smear mud on your white sneakers.
The mud follows you
into the school bus,
leaves prints on the shiny floor
of the 7-Eleven on East Broadway.
All the kids buy ice creams
and the bus takes you home.


When night falls, you’re in a dinosaur land.

You circle a glacier thinking,
What if you went back in time?
Maybe you’re on another planet?
What if you’re in the future,
an intergalactic tourist?

The trees are foreign.
Alien bushes with spines where
leaves oughtta be.
Fern trees —
these ones tower over you
shoots uncurling towards the sky.
Cabbage trees —
they do not look
like cabbages, more
like muppets.
Beech trees —
these ones look like regular trees.
But they are pretty.

So pretty it fills up your insides
like you could choke on it.
Also, you’re in love.
You have five bucks left.
On the way home you stop
at a kebab shop and buy a pottle of chips.


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