A Two Mile Walk Along a Cliff of Years

January 23rd, 2010

Roses and marguerites peak over a garden fence and turn their faces to the sun. Way out in the water, two fishermen are in a boat. A little rip tide follows one wave and bumps into the next while a lone sandpiper hurries back and forth to peck the sand; another simply watches as the surf breaks on the beach.

My brother, Joe, caught a thirty pound bass in the surf north of Pedro Point before he went to fight and die in France. Beach houses were windswept behind hedges of marguerites. I was a little girl filling a box with driftwood and dragging it up the hill.joe-fish

Doves cling to the cliff and watch the water. A couple sits on a bench put there in memory of a surfer who drowned off this rocky shore. It’s starting to rain, I need to hurry home and build a fire against the cold.

Joe and I took turns blowing our breaths to fan the flames, a game of being first to get the log to light. We sat and read poems to each other. He had a book and I had one, we raced to keep the rhythm going, funny and sad, laughter and silence. I went away to college; he went away to war.

There’s a “For Sale” sign on a house with pink roses on the fence. Years ago, our house on the hill was sold. I don’t know who lives there now. I have driven by and paused to look at the red cement steps leading up to the door of the house with the marguerites.

I see myself as a little girl dragging driftwood up the hill. My brother is coming to help me carry the box up the long, steep, red steps.

The drops of rain have disappeared; doves still cling to the cliff.

© Patricia Grube