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California Gestalt by Jessica Yuan

California Gestalt by Jessica Yuan

published in New Delta Review, Issue 11.2

How small the rains that feed that city,

that settle its dust and high flat glare: city leaning

back in its chair against the Coastal Ranges,

city paved smooth and level to the concrete drain,

the channelized river. So little of it and so confined.

I went past every morning and also believed

there was One Way to manage land and water,

to follow its inscriptions, downhill,

Mountains-to-Sea—

where river strokes

the esophageal hollow, memory sinks

a pale thread of root: the yellow streetlight, blooming.

Wet hedge square-clipped in the breath mint sky,

curb licked clean, draining the trapezoidal valley

of sun-flat cement. Body’s width of water

meek in the light. One unruly patch, cloud of sun flies,

frilled inches of algae, dead rabbit, ducklings

stepping around it in their slow march

to Newport Beach—

Now I am the duck,

remembering: the water as conveyor belt,

chorus line, arrow glittering with dew.

Now I am the rabbit and I’ve had enough:

water & no water, detritus, desire:

I will burst through the pores with one more

helping of life, I will spill over the lowest railing.

Could I have seen it then? If I had followed

the levee to its sand-foam mouth, worming

knee-deep out to shore, would I have caught its meaning, would I have known who sat behind my eyes and placed this image high on the shelf of that hollow concrete year.



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