La Jolla

Patrick Carrington

In shallows near the inlet
that tested seamen daily,
where gulls came to cry at night,
we dug our toes for clams
and carried them in our shirts
to open over firewood we stole
from old man Hennigan’s shed.

The tired sun pulled the Pacific
up over its head like a blanket.
Boats came in with their catch.
Bathers were gone. You waited

until we ate before you spoke,
just as the clams and beer were
done. I walked to the shoreline,
words circling me like sharks.
I washed my face in salt water,
my back to you as it mingled
with mine. Turning strongly

to show you couldn’t hurt me,
pretending nothing you could say
could ever matter, I told you
I’d write about it someday.

And as I left, gulls banked in
for their night song.