Tom Daley
Prodigal at Point Reyes

The morning silvering, fish-tall,
foams over reefs.
Cramped with combustible oil,

dry eucalyptus leaves
brush a man’s shoulders,
shuffle his griefs.

His throat brews new psalters,
heels trample small trails.
His nose gnaws the weather

of salt and bay laurel.
Sea wind creases his lips.
His neck, torqued to trouble,

twists where waves clap
quake-whittled cliffs.
Once kingpin of fibs

he scrawled clues on his cuff.
Dull stars cured their shine
in the smoke of his bluff.

Derelict, dimeless, begrimed,
scion of a spendthrift house,
pulled down in perilous time—

now dizzy, now doused
in blackberry ambrosia, in Armageddon
rumored from the opposite coast.

He might pitch, a pelican
from stilled September flyways,
glut his beak in the lagoon

corralled by the switchback highway.
His world drifts
on fault lines grazing sideways.

Fables of terror and war lift
over paths where he trudges.
The sun shifts,

silver fogs nudge
hills knotted brown.
Shark jaws, eager, flush,

flex at the round
of seals in their haul-outs
hounding herring down.

In a whalebone walkabout,
he unties the fire-blight of his smiles—
smiles scored like stone Buddhas, smiles that implode

snowing rock dust over pastures and shoals.
Miles mapping deceit,
chapped by tall tales.

Striding, drum-steady, he completes
the muster of his will. Once maimed,
it stiffens and greets

all the new-minted truth he can claim,
prodigal as eucalyptus oil
verging on flame.


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