San Diego
by Helen Degen Cohen 


San Diego,
                          . . . like the ship moored at the gift shop,
you sail away from me each day, the haze,
the clustered beach, the Great Pacific waving
somewhere below
          like your friend the sun
whose fiery pacing sells

your sweet life on the balding hills,
their Saints’ eyes popping, wooden, concrete,
armoring the sunlashed figurines,
shielding, splashing 
winding roads beneath their reign.
The hills are sparse and rich
from raping, 
growing perfect palms and walls

all transplanted.
I am heading west and steady
          like the one-way sun 
into the sea—
how the desert hills are dampened!—
suburb of the live, live sea,
California cloister.

Only nights come clear,
dressed up, affecting
veiled stars, child eyes
dancing on the harbors,
on the hibernating sea.
San Diego, night town, golden setting,

a newly famished friend is here
on devastating wheels
of steel and chrome, calculating,
bargaining, negotiating 
even this: your scalloped tapestry
at evening,
and you are bound to sky-write
that there is nothing left 
to conquer. All is safe:
the Spanish lace, the wildlife.

Copyright © 1999 by Helen Degen Cohen.


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