Margaret Ross

Blank page over the visible world

appearing to invite some reinvention

of the cliffs and road and sea.

If you drive here, you have to be

careful not to sail the car over the side.

The turns are sharp

and the rail, where it exists,

is too low to do more than trick a driver

into feeling safe. Why build a road

in such a dangerous way?

Nobody asks that question.

Everyone knows a beautiful view

from a vertiginous place

solves certain problems

in the brain. It convinces me

I love you. Beside the road

an iron spigot stuck into the cliff

dispenses an eternal trickle

over rock shelves crowded with coins

and flower petals. People stand in the dust

drinking the drinkable water,

looking out at the undrinkable.

I came here the day after I met you.

My father was visiting and I drove him up

with you inside my head

making me generous

and extravagantly cheerful.

A clear day. When we got to the spring

I praised the ocean, thinking of you.

Did he know at that point

he was losing his mind? Nothing happened

or only very small things happened

that I could now call signs.

The biggest waves

tossed little veils of spray above themselves

that hung midair a moment longer

than it seemed they should. After a bigger wave

a small. From the cliff, they all look manageable.

A bird lay with its wings spread

on the wind’s invisible surface.

I found a plastic bottle in the car

for my father to fill.

Traffic was bad on the way back

and it made him furious as always.

There’d been an accident. We were stuck

on the bridge for twenty minutes

with the day spread out around us on all sides—

the long flat cargo barges stacked with freight

and the runner’s path along the shore

then the elevated highway, the steep hills

packed with houses and trees and you

you were still only the feeling

of escaping my life.

Margaret Ross is the author of Saturday, which will be published by The Song Cave in September.
Originally published:
April 1, 2024


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