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Even though California is forever
California, we’re still stunned
reverent by the sun, for days under
the influence of the amphetamine
blue body with fried-egg mind.
Wholly without margaritas we are
happiness-drunk and pink-skinned—
refraction of the strangers
we once were. But we know this
story—rapture we’ll survive—
and after a buoyant lime-gold day
lapping Pacific salt, we hurry back
for our private indoors, stripping
for the sacred lulling shadows
of a shower alone



Prayer of disappearing:
o, let me return someday to California
after I am dead, transformed
to a succulent on a bed of black
stones, my world entire as far as
I see, roots deep in a terracotta
pot with other hoarders
of water, where we sit still
day after day, not looking to each
other but up, up to the sun god
who never lets it rain,
we never spill
we never know
we’re not responsible
we bloom as if by
accident, terribly free,
and we hardly grow


            —after Yeats

Here where bugs exist
only in software, I can see
you growing old, mottled
shepherd dog sleeping
at your feet as you face
a picture window, watching
the peach streak of dusk
warp to rose to violet to
black. California’s currents
so capable, they threaten
the East Coast where you’ve
thrived all your life. Here
we absorb light like words
to a song, where it seems
the very sky is ether
to waves of pain.
But wherever we go
we return to ourselves,
simple logic of being.
Even if your gypsy
mind rustles you farther
in—away from the swallowing
coasts to the desert’s red
blooms or to the Plains’ wheat
stalks that lean against
wind—I’ll go. We are
we. I will follow.  


Liz Robbins’s second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award, judged by Patricia Smith; her chapbook, Girls Turned Like Dials, won the 2012 YellowJacket Press Award. Her poems are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, New Madrid, New York Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, The Pinch, Rattle, and Tar River Poetry. She’s an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.