Tofino

Winter, 2019-2020 / No. 44

I

At the brick barrier of YVR arrivals, you stand
             impatient and imperious in designer sunglasses
                  car keys hanging by the crook of your index finger.
Mad at me for the flight delay and lost luggage,
             you tweet your displeasure @AirCanada.
We have a time booked for the ferry.

West of Port Alberni, the rainforest envelops us, wet and green,
             darkness slows an already long drive.
Two lanes slick and bumpy, ridges in the road vibrate under our seats.
	       It feels we could spin out at any moment.
Water tumbles along granite shards, gathers across
             pavement dropping into the lake on the other side of the road.
             Verdant growth invades cracks and openings.
             If I stretch my hand out of the car, I could touch the waterfall
                           feel my fingerprints get worn away.

My playlist is incompatible with your car, so you regale me with stories of the
famous hockey bruiser whose team paid him off when he asked for help—
              of the drunks and druggies, the sex addicts, the anorexics and cutters—
              can you imagine hurting so much that you cut yourself?
                           I say nothing.

We hit the coast and laugh at the road sign—
              a little blue figure scrabbling up the side of a hill, 
                            an oversized arc of a wave cresting overhead
                                          “ENTERING TSUNAMI HAZARD ZONE.”

II

Waking early, we walk the edge of Cox Bay.
            Follow the arc of the beach to an ever-retreating 
                          horizon of overcast sky converging with murky ocean. 
              Water pulls underneath our feet as the current recedes 
                          standing at the end of the earth, waves wash over our words.

At the sandy inlet outside our balcony, we find	
             remnants of yesterday’s wedding,
                          a limp boutonnière discarded on a craggy rock shelf,
             a heart traced around “tofino” spelled out in shell shards pressed into sand.  

You tell me of a summer night, a tinge of fall in the air.
             As the oldest it was up to you to investigate the muffled 
                           thump that echoed up the stairs.
             You wrestled with the limp weight a drunken body holds.
                           Felt the clamminess of your mother’s bare thigh
                                         pressed against the kitchen tiles.

III

I wake throughout the night,
             the bitter grit of Zopiclone clinging to the inside of my cheek.
A giant slug crawling outside our door
its black and beige mottled body camouflaged by the pebbled walkway
              traversing the little rocks, knowing its slow path. 

At dawn I shrug on a yellow
             slicker to walk the crescent beach alone.
In the sheltered tide pool, clusters of barnacled mussels glue 
             themselves onto igneous shelves.
                          Their shells razor against my palm
	    jade anemones cluster into crevices, tentacles undulating 
                          as they clone themselves into soft blobs.
Above them, I find two magenta starfish exposed to the air,
                          the diurnal tide stranding them there.  
	     The soft warm arm of one hugging the other against the rock
                          waiting for the water to return.