We agreed to meet near the cave, whose walls

he’d press me against. The slick damped

my shirt, the cold raised goosebumps

on my skin. The ocean crashed outside

or in our hearts, and the air smelled

like salt and sea lions. We were in the land

of tall trees, where horsetails

grew up foggy slopes near giant ferns.

I might have expected to see a velociraptor

spring from the undergrowth, go tearing

down the beach toward those haystack

rocks. But no dinosaurs came and we were

an afternoon of salty skin and hair, of

sand between the toes and everywhere else,

of waves catching small stones

and softening them. We bordered

ancient forests, re-learned each other’s

bodies and scars, the way our hands fit.

There’s nothing like the ocean and trees

like skyscrapers to remind us of our breath,

to remind us we are only brief.


Liz N. Clift has had poetry appear in Rattle, Hobart, The National Poetry Review, Passages North, and elsewhere.

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