• Young Writers’ Corner

    PGHS Young Writers' ClubDuring the school year, and while their other classes and test schedules allow, the Young Writers’ Club meets at Pacific Grove High School. We are proud to present selections they offer. At the end of the year, the club publishes a literary magazine.

    « Previous Entries

    Why They Will Never Learn

    by Erin Smith

     A doe runs across

    The road, in front of a bus

    Her young fawn follows

    The Ghost of Eliza Tash

    by Rachel Cope

    My parents lived on an old homestead out on Carmel Valley Road for about seventeen years through the 1970’s and the 1980’s. Many scary experiences – creaking noises, inexplicably displaced objects, and general spooks – occurred out on that homestead throughout those seventeen years but none as nerve-racking as the wildfire that my father refers to as the “asshole fire” that was started by their “city slicker” neighbors. The wildfire got so close to their house that they were forced to evacuate immediately. Once the firemen arrived at the property, they noticed that an old lady was hosing down the house, using water from a nearby water tank in attempts prevent the fire from overtaking the house. Multiple times the firemen on the scene told the old woman to leave immediately so that she wouldn’t be harmed by smoke inhalation or be burned by the fast moving flames. But the obstinate woman would not relent from her task of hosing down the house. Frustrated, the firemen eventually gave up their efforts to move the woman away from the house and continued on with the task of putting out the blaze.

    A week later, my mother went to turn on the press pump, which would fill up the water holding tank, and she discovered that the pump was disconnected. Not aware of the old woman and her protective actions, my mother quickly contacted the forestry department to see if the firemen had tapped into their water source during the emergency. The department proceeded to ask the firemen that were credited for putting out the flames if they knew anything about the disconnected pump, and they said no;  however, they did ask if the old lady that was hosing down the house when they arrived at the ranch was doing okay. That curious question led my mother to investigate further, and eventually she discovered that there were no water marks on the property windows or anywhere else where the firemen said that the woman was hosing down the house. My mother, already suspicious about ghostly occurrences around the property, and remembering the history of its original homestead (which was owned by the prominent Tash family) that burned down over a hundred years before the new house was built, concluded that the mysterious firefighter that helped to put out the “asshole” blaze must have been a ghost! To this day, my parents and the firemen on the scene still believe that the ghost of Eliza Tash was protecting the house at 43515 Carmel Valley Road on that day to prevent the same demise that claimed the once cherished Tash family home.

    And yes this is a true story.

    Hello Little Birdie

    by Naiya Biddle

     Hello little birdie
    How was your day?
    Mine was most excellent
    If I should say

    What now little birdie?
    You seem a little sad
    What is the matter?
    Missing something you once had?

    Don’t cry little birdie
    It’s going to be okay
    What’s done has been done
    And so comes another day

    Don’t worry little birdie
    It won’t hurt you
    Although it is tempting
    Just to rid myself of you too

    Who now little birdie?
    Oh, your dear friend
    Where is he you ask?
    It doesn’t really matter in the end

    But you want to know little birdie?
    That’s fine with me
    He’s in the attic
    He that use to be

    What have I done little birdie?
    You already know
    Have you not heard the screams?
    Have you not watched my show?

    Am I ill little birdie?
    Not as far as I’m aware
    He thought I was
    For I did give him quite the scare

    What is wrong with my hands little birdie?
    They are stained you say?
    And so they are
    I think I like them this way

    Are you scared little birdie?
    Are you aware the end is near?
    Don’t you want to see your friend again?
    Come now, I am here

    Goodbye little birdie.

    Last Breath

    by Golnoush Pak

    The world around me is quiet

    Like there is nothing
    Not even a single soul…but me
    Sitting on this old chair
    My mind surprisingly empty of thoughts
    As I stare at nowhere…
    Toward emptiness perhaps
    I can’t even feel myself breathing
    My heart doesn’t beat
    I feel just like this old chair that I’m sitting on
    With an old soul
    Showing few signs of being alive
    It’s not bad … It’s peaceful
    It is the peacefulness of the chair I feel
    Footsteps coming towards me
    A fresh, happy soul sits upon my lap
    A smile forms on my dry lips unconsciously
    She is young and very energetic
    She puts her hand on my arm
    “Sir, are you alright?”
    Her voice is sweet
    Minutes rock slowly
    Until I am no longer chair
    I hover above my creaking frame
    I see the girl
    Sitting in its lap
    She will likely walk away
    But I don’t want her to
    Desire is still within me
    Her living spirit brings me joy
    Makes me believe there is hope
    Even in this place beyond hope
    Where I see my body from above
    And I see hers
    Leaving me
    In stillness

     

     

    Plea for a Green Thumb

    by Rachel Cope

    How hard could it be to grow a strawberry?
    The vast fields in Watsonville grow thousands of them,
    but this gardener, broken in spirits, wants just one.
    A single strawberry without any dents or discoloration,
    no mold or mildew filling the center;
    no puncture holes from hungry bugs;
    no more infestations of pesky green aphids,
    And no more broken stems.

    All she’s asking for is one plump, red strawberry-
    something to boost her broken ego-
    something to show her that everything she touches does not always die-
    something to reassure this tired gardener that she is not a failure-
    just one strawberry.

    Reality

    by Meriel Glysson

    I yearn for the bliss of serenity
    As my whole life flashes before my eyes
    And death’s sweet call tears me from reality

    Obscure thoughts warp my mentality
    Dizzy and spinning in knots and ties
    I yearn for the bliss of serenity

    The hostile mind commits brutality
    Filling the world with hate and lies
    While death’s sweet call tears us from reality

    Life is an unending spiral of abnormality
    Trying to grasp a light to arise
    Yearning for the bliss of serenity

    With the mindset of mortality
    We collect our memories so no one dies
    When death’s sweet call tears us from reality

    To obtain the purist state of equanimity
    One must obliterate the thoughts we deemed unwise
    I yearn for the bliss of serenity
    As death’s sweet call tears me from reality.

    Escape

    by Shyla Atchison

    Again, it’s hard to stand.
    I need your crutch.
    Dionysus, take my hand.

    I want to reach your holy land.
    Bless me with your touch.
    Again, it’s hard to stand.

    Dionysus, let me disband.
    It’s all too much.
    Dionysus take my hand.

    Without you my will is weak, and
    You’re the only thing I can clutch.
    Again, it’s hard to stand.

    Dionysus, you turn bad to grand.
    If it isn’t asking too much,
    Dionysus, take my hand.

    You always understand
    The only help I need is your touch.
    Again, it’s hard to stand.
    Dionysus, take my hand.

     

    The Psychologist

    by Lawrence Haggquist

    The social experimenter cogitates
    over lurking variables
    that threaten to slip like shadows
    past the fortress of his experimental design.

    Outside the walls of his intellect,
    rain soaks sidewalks
    where students,
    having escaped random selection,
    scurry along brick walkways,
    past the ivy beards
    of buildings,
    to their classes.

    Below,
    in the cool basements of Psychology,
    teams of rats huddle in cages,
    like prisoners at Auschwitz,
    awaiting their assigned torture
    by electric shock, or brain lesioning,
    or perhaps starvation.
    Sad to say,
    but maybe they have it better than Zimbardo’s human prisoners,
    who cower in cells
    on cold cement floors –
    dehumanized, naked, and shackled to one man’s wild hypothesis –
    or Seligman’s puppy,
    shivering alone in his corner cage,
    having lost his will to even move.
    It’s no wonder
    that Harlow’s chimp
    doesn’t think his wire
    mother loves him.

    Still,
    the experimenter cogitates over hidden variables,
    the ones that sneak up
    from beyond consciousness
    and attack
    the black mystery of ink blots,
    stifling all the troubled screams
    that reach out
    from inner-darkness –
    from beneath layers
    of hidden pain.

    Today,
    the scientist cannot even be certain
    that puddles of rain
    will not,
    in some unknowable way,
    smear the contours
    of sadness.

    The Birth of Allegory

    by Lawrence Haggquist

    Personification
    is simple, as long as you
    let her do some yoga breathing,
    making certain she alternates nostrils
    to balance the yin and yang of your verse.
    Once you set her to practice,
    your synecdochic neurons
    should keep
    in mind
    the tantric
    meter
    of her breathing,
    while your pungi-pen
    charms poetic words
    from their basket of
    otherwise obscurity –
    to hang them,
    for a moment,
    on display
    in a
    strangely
    hypnotic,
    undulatory
    sway – their
    serpentine
    scales
    reflecting light
    from a full moon
    that gleams
    down
    from
    black
    night –
    the white
    eye of the
    Taiji –
    the only symbolic hope
    you see left in the dark
    realm of the literal.

    326: An Event In Santa Fe

    by Rudolph Tenenbaum

    An event in Santa Fe.
    The grand opening of a cafe.

    The sign of a goose is above.
    The manager looks like a bum.

    No food. No drink.
    They invite us…to think!

    We are anxious to make a call.
    We are anxious to shop at the mall.

    Our printer requires new ink.
    But we think we might try to think.

    We arrive in a thoughtful mood.
    No drink. No food.

    Not even a tiny fig.
    But our thoughts our big.

    We reflect on life and on death,
    On the sky’s infinite depth,

    And on humans’ eternal strife,
    And, of course, on the meaning of life.

    We are anxious to make a call.
    We are anxious to shop at the mall.

    Our printer requires new ink.
    But we think we had better think.

    To us even building a fence
    Will make little sense

    Without knowing why
    We live and die.

    We decide to ignore the fuss.
    Of the time remaining to us

    We are trying to make good use
    While time’s cooking our goose.

    Poetry Out Loud

    by Lawrence Haggquist

    A translator for the deaf,
    intense, yet self-effacing,
    gesticulates from an orb of light
    off stage left.
    Her swift fingers pantomime a voice
    emanating from center stage.

    That young voice,
    sharp, commanding,
    and quickened by emotion,
    delivers the war poem, ‘Dover Beach.’

    “Listen,” it urges,
    “you hear the grating roar of pebbles…”

    – Silence ensues,
    as thoughts vanish into meditation.

    California echoes through the voice in subtle cadences.
    It lives by another beach on a rocky coast,
    whose rocks, not yet pebbles, stubbornly resist eons of erosion
    by the pounding sea,
    retaining the proud integrity of ‘rocks.’

    But “Listen” on evenings when the tide tugs strong enough
    to push them from cups of sodden sand,
    and you will hear the rocks tumble over each other,
    like words colliding in a fathomless sea of silence –
    clicking and sliding, clattering and shifting,
    beneath the groans of hungry sea lions
    yelping for attention out in the tranquil bay.

    And as your mind roams from that granite shore toward the edge of meaning,
    you know the pebbles recited from the stage mean more than Dover Beach,
    more than war and the fading poignancy of love.

    Among the audience,
    listening and absorbing, I cannot help reflect
    the owner of that spotlight voice –
    tall, slender, and utterly convincing in his solipsistic rapture –
    has never heard, and never will,
    the “melancholy, long withdrawing roar”
    of which the poem speaks;
    nor have I, separated as we are by genes and generations.

    But I have heard rocks rumbling beneath the sway of tides
    and have felt a loneliness both instinctive and eternal in the sound.
    And I have looked out across the solitary ocean in twilight,
    over its cold, endless, moon-dappled indifference,
    longing for something more intimate than Nature.

    Tonight I listen to a poem recited for those who hear as I do.
    Yet I also enter the world of the deaf,
    as each stanza is deciphered into gesture before my eyes
    for those beyond the reach of sound,
    while from the quiet universe expanding at stage left
    The “turbid ebb and flow of misery”
    roars just the same;
    or, maybe not the same

    Pay Us Fair Wage

    by Sabrina Riffle

    Age makes no difference it is always the wage.
    A cage, my sisters and I are stuck in from dawn to the end of the work day.
    What do we make of this? Is equality not what we stand for?
    Why can they not pass the act to decrease poverty with fair pay?
    Why can we not fathom this unexplained inequality that has happened to generation after
    Generation, day after day?
    Chain us for four more decades and he will still be the CEO of everything, of anything.
    We will stay in that cage, not paid
    Same education yet unfair wage.
    Close that gender wage gap, I will nap no more
    He will not keep us in those sleeping chains,
    Open up this Supreme door and listen to what I say,
    We will stay, unless you pay us fair wage.

    Communion at Lovers Point

    by Edward Jarvis

    They have cordoned off this
    cove a mile west of the pupping
    grounds. No other in recorded
    history has come here to give birth.
    The harbor seal and her
    newborn stir with the swelling
    dawn-light, the tiny mizzle
    seeking a teat as they lie a
    linear fathom from the waterline.
    A gathering of humans witnessing
    on the low cliff above the popular
    community beach surrender
    the long claimed territory for what,
    in situ, has been reclaimed for
    these few days, the suck and slurp
    of first communion a duet
    with the swish of tide on sacred sand.

    337

    by Rudolph Tenenbaum

    The banners we decided not to carry.
    The women we decided not to marry.

    The roads we decided not to travel.
    The codes we neglected to unravel.

    The lives unlived, the feelings disregarded
    The law defines as property discarded.

    A life, a wife, a dream, a precious stone,
    Just anyone may claim them as his own.

    And look! As everyone picks up the pieces
    The value of the property increases.

    And we acquire quite a different vision
    Of what we once rejected with derision.

    We notice the women’s grace and manners,
    And those banners, those proud banners,

    And those tiresome, but quite enticing roads,
    And those intricate, but quite intriguing codes.

    The finders jubilate displaying every item.
    It would be wrong to hate ‘em and to spite ‘em.

    We spot the wheat left out by the reapers
    And curse the law proclaiming “finders keepers.”

    He’s an honest man, with his honest words

    by Disha Singh

    He’s an honest man
    With his honest words.

    A reformed man
    A devout man
    A truthful man
    (So they say)
    A man masks
    The man with all the cards
    In his hand the secrets
    Power and Control
    The center of the universe
    The heavens can’t compete
    He’s the dealer
    The jack
    The gambler
    To him a game
    The Black and The White
    Jaded words
    The glitz and glam
    Shattering lights
    Breaking and falling
    The sinner, the corrupt, the
    damned, the depraved-

    Ah, but no,
    He’s an honest man
    With his honest words.

    Man in the Moon

    by Lyla Mahmoud

    Stars flicker regretfully,
    bound by the ink blanket of infinity,
    as they gaze through liquid windows,
    hoping to catch of glimpse of the quivering globe.

    The man in the moon observes.
    Perched upon God’s gaping smile,
    his eyes spilling milk into the cauldron of creation.

    Lips of silver dust,
    nose of  broken stone.
    His ears obey the pull of silence,
    echoing through heavy water.

    Watch the man,
    and the stars aching with remorse,
    wonders ever present at their softly glowing fingertips.

    In the Earth, in the Sun,
    all the ancient bodies weave in this empty universe,
    but cannot learn to create paradise;
    their powers veiled by the dark shadows,
    of God’s swollen womb.

    Flaws

    by Josh Massey

    Our ancestry has put us in a loop
    Although we may heal, we use the same crutch
    Something keeps sending us to jump through hoops
    Man’s experience has grown out of touch
    Developing new methods to old goals
    Man has kept himself in an endless rut
    Activities repeat for newborn souls
    Multi-floored mansions mimic clay built huts
    Cycling backwards, blinded by the ego
    Closed minds deafen us to sounds of progress
    A species shackled, throughout time we go
    Forever in grade school without recess

    Ignorance holds us back like cancer
    Some talking monkeys searching for answers

    Enough with Inane Analogies

    by Maya Mueller

    My existence, like the puzzle of a maze—
    Not because of the intricacy, you understand,
    Or even the frustration.
    But more because
    So many paths are walled, cut off, selective
    The realms of my Earth contained within the ignorance
    Of parallel, ink black lines
    I could always shock the audience,
    Drawing hoards of swallowed gasps
    As the insolent graphite scratched beyond
    The firmly printed boundaries.
    But that—to the synchronized sigh of relief from onlookers and policeman alike—would
    Meddle my reality.
    And that would be too exhilarating
    For my delicate, pretty red heart.

    Verity

    by Disha Singh

    The golden figurines
    silver cups
    glinting crystals
    A veneer over the truth.

    Quaking palms
    clenched jaws
    clouded vision
    This is what I hide.

    With eyes reverted to the past
    hands clasped in motion of prayer
    whispers of memories
    Pry into my worst nightmares.

    Resticted chest
    shallow breaths
    constricted throat
    Stifled sobs devour my shouts of pain.

    Blinking the moisture away
    little grey soldiers build the walls
    donning the false pretense of life
    Fixing a smile on my cold face.

    Am I happy?

    Madman

    by Golnoush Pak

    .
    Night . .
    Stars . .
    Darkness . .
    Again . .

    A cloudy day
    My room
    Full of anguish
    Sadness
    An old friend
    My soul
    Disheveled
    Heart
    Don’t even say a word
    My Mind
    Like a madman . .
    Waiting
    Every second
    Silence
    A part of my life . .
    Hope
    Every breath i take
    Loneliness . .
    Old friend
    The road
    Vague
    Future
    Vague
    Present
    . . . . . . .
    And yesterday
    Memories . .
    A pen and a paper
    Old friends . .

    A stomachache

    A headache
    My hands
    Freezing . .
    My legs
    Shivering from tiredness
    My eyes
    Burning . .
    My lips . .
    Inanimate
    A soul full of memories . .
    And suddenly
    Eyes become wet
    Soul’s disheveled even more . .
    My cheek wet
    I am . .
    A madman . . .
    You
    . . . . .

    Desire

    by Disha Singh

    The desire of the world swirls around us
    in blowing, gusting winds.
    The desire of the world mills around us
    until all of the lights dim.

    We may die today,
    we may die tomorrow.
    I don’t know what to say
    except I’ve seen the world’s sorrow.

    There is not much left to see
    since everything around us is engulfed with fire.
    This is what happens when we let our yearnings be
    the destruction of everything begins with desire.

    The desire of the world blows around us until the end of time.

    San Fran to Monterey

    by Savannah Mitchem

    You can reinvent yourself, she says, that’s what I always say. She likes the fresh start, but she could never be anything less than herself. Me and Mom. We go where dad goes, where the wind blows, where God knows.
    I started out as a California zygote riding trolleys and my mom buying us fish for a treat. I’ve been a rolling stone since I rolled out of her, a nomad of the hunter-gatherer type. I can’t see life for me that’s stationary. Home is where the love is, and it’s really everywhere. Family is always a drive and a half away, and friends surface wherever we go.
    He says Freedom is a close relative to Summer, and Moving has a little sister Joy. He says if you don’t put your name in, you won’t know. He says we will be fine and love it there. I say okay, I believe you.
    The little one doesn’t say much actually. Not much at all. He sits in the back and goes quietly. Well, it’s bittersweet, we both say together. It hasn’t hit us, really.
    Dad takes leave, we pack up and head out in the unknown and nothing has ever been completed except our hearts. Pictures are leaned against the walls, never hung, collecting dust. I don’t like pictures anyway, I like memories. Anything we can put off till the next house we do, except they painted my room pistachio green. We put off me leaving, but I will have to leave the next house for good. On my own, to college.
    So I will come full circle to California. California, around the world, and then back again. And end my career as a kid table, back seat inhibitor. I will buy my own fish and eat it with my own mouth, and I will get tilapia, not salmon. I don’t like salmon. I’ll drive off and look back often.

    A New Age

    by Robin Olson

    I am from gossip.
    From a place where bad reputations emerge from hidden enemies.
    Where pain, struggle, and tears amuse those who cause them.
    And compassion is overrated.
    I am from bathroom whispers.
    A place where friends can backstab and lie.
    No consequences for the predator.
    Only a lifetime of suffering for his victims.
    Where has all the love gone?
    Where is the importance of community and respect?
    The smiles exchanged between strangers in the hall?
    Vanished as we gaze into handheld gadgets more important than human contact.
    Slipped through the supposed“maturity”we all gained after junior high.
    Conquered by computer screens and iPhones.
    With the click of a button, our love has dissolved.
    Spitting on the once-cherished bonds we possessed.
    We have all surrendered to the trends of our time.
    Leaving the ones we used to love behind.

    The Light in Our Hands

    by Emily Stewart

    Chang slid his outstretched hand in the cold stream. The paper lantern floated gently out of his fingers and began to drift away, a glowing cloud in the reflected sky. Chang straightened up, brushing his hands off on his pants. I entangled my hands in his, hoping to distract his bleak expression.
    “And that is to honor my father, and my father’s father, and all the fathers before him.” He finally spoke, gazing at the nothing but the flickering yellow lights enfolded with soft purple petals. “Each of whom died in war. It does not matter which war. All wars have become the same to me. They have all blended together in a useless clump of pain and anger, the shouts of the soldiers, the screams of the dying.”
    I watched as the light slowly drowned itself farther down in the river, dragged down by the changing tides.
    “And every day,” Chang whispered with scorn, his muscles tightening under his arm. “On this festival, I am reminded of all the people killed in the name of convoluted justice.” His chest heaving, Chang’s voice cracked. “Their ancestors must walk alone, with no one to honor them by sending cheap flower lanterns down a river. I suppose that must be all you look forward to, if you are dead. But at least you have the lesser of two evils.”
    Chang’s mouth set in a grim line. I followed his line of sight and watched with him as the figure Ling Ma appeared in the doorway, which illuminated her figure with light. Clutching the last of the handcrafted paper lanterns, she struggled desperately to reach the water’s edge. She knelt, and extended her shaking arms; but she held that lantern tight in her wizened hands. The first tear came, and then another; and she wept, holding her family, long dead and gone, close. She could not let them go down the river.
    “I would rather die than live a life of loneliness, watching every single one of my family be killed.” Chang said, closing his eyes to the pain of his grandmother and sharply turning. The movement caused me to stumble, and I caught his shoulder for support. He shrugged off my hands, his eyes fixated on the churning river’s depths, and spoke again.
    “I do not expect to live. I know I will die in war, as did my father, and my father’s father. It does not matter which war. Only a matter of time…”
    I rested my head on his shoulder, but he was too wrapped up in his own thoughts to notice me.
    “And for whom.”

    Wish

    by Naiya Biddle

    I saw a shooting star today
    Soaring across the dark sky
    I pondered at the curious sight
    Deciding what to wish for
    Closing
    my
    eyes
    I made a wish
    Just one simple little wish
    And then
    open my eyes again
    To see the star had flown out of sight
    I hope my wish comes true tonight
    And I hope you enjoy it too
    My shooting star should meet you soon
    My little wish
    to you

    Winter

    by Lila Afifi

    It’s that time of year again
    When snow-capped trees reach for the sky
    Busy-goers cross the plain
    And secret presents pile high
    Snowball fights ensue rapidly
    Snowmen and snow-angels are created by children
    Ornaments cling to leaves steadfastly
    Gifts seek hiding spots by the millions
    While paper and ribbons race to the finish
    Anything and everything all paid in gallions
    As hungry stomachs continue to replenish
    Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and Hannukah throughout
    Mean, harsh words have been de-clawed of their talons
    So appetites for gourmet food stall between the bout
    Then comes New Years and time for joy
    With plates and drinks to way us down
    There are toys being played with by girls and boys
    While the grand new puppy-dog waddles round and round
    All these things come in the winter
    And only stops when spring arrives
    But for now beneath the bright white sky we’ll banter
    And stall the green that soon will thrive
    Winter is a jolly time for all
    For shoppers and sellers and wishers and frogs
    The wish-lists fulfilled just down the hall
    But no one should ever like wearing red clogs
    Just boots and sweaters with tea next to books
    Look out the window there’ll be snow on the ground
    With everything hidden in crannies and nooks
    No one will care to look and just lounge
    As winter is brought on, by snow on the falling down

    The Last Grain of Sand

    by Arwa Awan

    We wear our lives out
    Living among the dead bodies
    the Burnt, the Gone, the Misled
    the Dead
    Indulged in the luxuries of our own mind
    Bound to the rulings of our own flesh
    Convolutions of selfdom wrapped around the obscurities of passion
    Wild fire the rain is smothering
    Gleaming candles the wind is blowing
    The melting clocks
    The fleeing birds
    The teeming water
    The last grain of sand
    Retiring

    Dear Gravity

    by Savannah Chioino

    i want
    To make something controversial,
    artistic as
    a fragment soul
    stained with jewel-dark hues
    and
    i want
    to leave a mark
    forever-lasting as
    scars on scraped knees
    silver-white and silken smooth
    and
    i want
    to be remembered
    for myself alone
    ink-black syllables on a stark
    white page
    and
    not forget the phantom wings
    called hope.

    Praise to the Dance

    by Emily Stewart

    There is something about the feeling
    Of skin moving:
    The concealing and the revealing,
    and the proving.
    Art with the whole self – that cannot be replicated.
    I am intoxicated.

    Tendu, fondu as you inhale and exhale
    You have now become the story.
    Breaking free of this life’s jail
    Let your body feel the glory
    Jeté to the stars as you glide along the barres
    No longer an observer you are

    Dance – the heart speaking without words
    This moment, alone, is ours
    Taking flight like blissful birds
    As our feet chase the glowing hours

    Reaching
    Grasping
    For that thing one cannot touch with the hand,
    But with the tip of the tongue,
    Or the heart,
    Of art.

    Alex’s Memory

    by Maya Mueller

    The moment hit Alex without warning.
    Like a brutal slap across the cheek, sharp and merciless, leaving stinging tears in his eyes and picking at the scars of his soul.  He placed a hand on his heart, becoming acutely aware of every intake of breath.
    Alex had lost something, something priceless and precious and unattainable.  The memory had slipped so quickly, like a slick pebble slipping from his fingers, lost among the wild currents of the river of his mind.  He had forgotten the precise color of his mother’s hair.
    Alex clearly remembered the delicate honey strands, like moonlight silver, yet could not precisely recall the color’s shade.  Were their caramel brown strands entwined with the blond?  Was it a soft flaxen, or a watery gold?  How did the hair feel, exactly, under his fingertips?  Like cotton, silk, water, fur?  He must remember.  He had to remember.  Without these memories she seemed even more like some transient fragment of his imagination.  She seemed less of a mother, but more of some distant goddess he worshipped, existing merely due to the power of his faith.  What if she had never lived?  What if…?
    The horror of the moment left him shaken, and he tremulously sat at the base of a tree.  The roots offered a rough, sturdy seat to support him on.
    Elsa Young was her name.  He repeated it under his breath like a mantra, grappling for breathily floating memories, holding his head in his hands.
    She was a woman of delicate bones, long and gentle and doe-like.  A woman of steep, sloping lines and gentle curves.  Her eyes, a mosaic of several different shades of blue―cobalt, dark navy, speckles of glassy aqua―framed by a fringe of colorless lashes that would tickle his cheek when she would embrace him.  Alex’s mother always smelled of the lavender facial water she dabbed on her face at night, a porcelain bottle that sat upon her dresser.  She would sit on the edge of the bed, her slender legs hanging of the sides, and dab her jaw bone with a cotton swab.  Alex, who was a toddler at the time, would sit at her feet with some car toy at hand and occasionally lean his cheek against her damp moisturized skin.
    He remembered the exact way she would smile; an almost guilty expression flitting across her face whenever he made her laugh.  Her eyes would crinkle into glistening blue crescents.  Her lips would curve upward despite her will, and her teeth would clench as the sheepish giggles rose from her throat, as if she were ashamed of herself for being happy.
    He remembered his mother in the garden; the oversized straw hat creating a crisscross of shadows along her face, the sleeves of her blouse rolled to her elbows.  She would pick a raspberry from the vine, and open her mouth into a large O to tell Alex to do the same.  He would obey happily, and she would smile faintly while placing the juicy fruit on his tongue.
    He remembered the cicada-humming, summer nights where they would lay together on her bed before his father finished his shower.  They would quietly listen to the water shoot from the faucets, intertwining their fingers, looking at each other with unflinching gazes.  She would draw swirls on his arm with her finger, or play shadow puppets against the solitary lamplight in the room.  Usually the ceiling fan was on, so her finger swans and geese and crocodiles would flicker before his eyes like some black and white film, like some bizarre illusion entrancing him.  She would sing Jewish lullabies to him, some other times, sorrowful lilting songs that he still remembered.
    But…the color of her hair…if only he could hold a strand, right now.  Or perhaps…if only she could stand in front of him, for one moment.  They did not need to speak, or touch.  Just to flicker before him like the shadow swans, a brief mirage to stir his memories, to saturate the thirst in his soul a little longer.  Perhaps, even, if she would smile again.  Just once.
    Perhaps.

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    This is the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card for Monterey Peninsula beaches, which reports water quality grades, or when relevant, weather advisories. An A to F grade is assigned based on the health risks of swimming or surfing at that location. Look at the "dry" grade for all days except those "wet" days during and within 3 days after a rainstorm. Click here for more information on the Beach Report Card. Click the name of the beach when it pops up for more details, or choose a beach below.

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