Tristan Harward

Delayed into SFO, we arrived in Pacifica
Late at night, in spitting rain and fog.
Why there? I don’t know. Only a few miles
From where I was born, it was a pilgrimage
Of a kind. Returning to the ocean.

Waking up at seven, still on east coast time,
I peek out the blinds to see they gave us
An ocean view room, looking straight over
Rockaway Beach. The rain had let up. 
I threw on clothes, grabbed the camera.

The smell of juniper and salt and dust.
The cool salt air. Slight drizzle.
A narrow trail through the grass.
Coming over the crest, the waves,
Angry and calm at the same time,
Carrying all the energy of the pacific—
A power bigger than people.
That’s the difference west coast folk know:
“You are small,” the waves say.

I kneel down, snap a few shots of waves
Breaking high on the rocks down shore.
A dozen plovers trace the shoreline,
Plucking at the sand and then running
In formation away from the crashing sea.

I place my palm on the sand, the power
Of the pacific at my fingertips;
Or is it the great ocean’s power over me?
I’m not sure of myself anymore.

“You are small,” it says again,
“But you are part of something.”
December 30th, 2022