I have lived
on the edge of paradise—
once in a small beach town
where you could smell
if not see, the ocean from every street,
walk to the beach from any part of town,
not wear shoes for days.
in an even smaller town
with only three side streets,
one gas station and seven bars,
mountain peaks so close
it looked as if you could touch
their smooth granite sides,
run your hand down
the soft curves of the forests
in their crevices.
And when you came out of the drugstore
with your aspirin or band-aids
you might see a single bison
staring at you, breathing white puffs
into the morning air
or a prong-horned antelope grazing
a few feet from where you parked your car
by the laundromat.
“You’re so lucky to actually live here!”
the tourists would say, their eyes shining.
Now I live in a place
surrounded by farms and chickenhouses
where I sometimes have to stop my car
and wait, while dairy cows are escorted
across the road to milking barns.
No tourists here, no one
to tell me I’m lucky
except the voice in my head that says
you’re so lucky
to be alive, after the cancer,
the hospitals and doctors,
after waiting so many hours
in small curtained rooms
with sinks and needles,
stunned and mute.
And now a tourist myself
in a life I almost lost,
I walk outside
with my black and white dog,
move the sheep through the pasture,
watch the wind blow
through the tops of the pine trees,
look at the faces of my sheep
see the questioning look in their eyes
and the patience.
Copyright 2009 Ina Ray Scrocco
Ina Ray Scrocco lives in Two Rock. She is an award-winning poet from Sonoma County who has been published in several anthologies, and is presently working on an upcoming book of poetry. Her work has appeared in The Redbook, Brief Encounter and the Napa College “Conference ‘81” collection, among others. She has given numerous readings in the area at Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma State University, Cinnabar Theatre, Copperfield’s Books, and the Vallejo Ferry Theatre in Sausalito.