Driftwood Melody by Wendy C. Ortiz

–Whidbey Island, Washington

Yesterday I left the cave to shine in the sun, like the sun,
a sauna of feelings, pores open, and out dripped sweat, cum,

I walked, breathed, took in, rounded curves, crossed roadway,
stuck to my little patch of shoulder, harbored by the white line as cars

hurled past to the future I couldn’t see. I finally saw the end
when for most of the journey I couldn’t, began to disbelieve,

thought to turn back, question the directions given. Then
the sight, the water, not a speck of shade. I’d found it. I walked among

the shadeless in their bikinis, oiled skins, cavorting dogs. Limbs
working, my bag useless, never opened,

except to reach in, my fingers touched the phone, unlocked it,
small silver animal, digital, and I waited for its cry, like birds

in a jungle. I fed it with my mouth, my own music I make
with words and sighs. You know the kind. Standing in the water

after crossing hot sand, pebbles underfoot, then the soft
silk of bright green moss and shed skirts of seaweed lacing

around my ankles, the usual invitation, the sirens inviting me,
the hot sun on my dark head, standing alone, feeling the undulations,

the small swells moving around my calves,
those shapely things, white, white: the Sagittarius rising–

I stood in that cold water and could not quite chill to the bone.
I looked and looked at the sky, my calves,

the water, the little waves, the shells, pebbles, driftwood. I’m stuck in an
inlet, moored for awhile, having crossed by ferry and heartbeat.

I walked past the children and dogs
and tried to center on a long piece of driftwood, trying to moor again.

My toes carried fresh sand into my shoes and I hiked back into what is known.
Passing the signs warning of tsunami danger zones I think:

sets off a tsunami. The plates shift. The slow sucking water turns back to its maker.

The beauty in an unearthly force. I know it by heart.
It speaks the language I know acutely.

About the Author:

Wendy C. Ortiz is a Los Angeles native. She holds an M.F.A. in
Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and is at work on
an M.A. in Psychology. A 2007 Writer-in-Residence at Hedgebrook, her
recent publications include Blood Orange Review, Palabra: A Magazine
of Chicano and Latino Literary Art, Cranky, KNOCK, and Eclipse.
Wendy is cofounder and curator of the Rhapsodomancy Reading Series at
the Good Luck Bar in Hollywood.