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By Urvashi Bahuguna
And then there was that frigid day in spring
we visited the seaside, cormorants speckling
the rock face, ice plant blooming a brilliant
pink as we headed up a hill to a vantage point
where we would point wildly in the distance
and claim, there lies Hawaii.
Wind swinging fists at the walkers the whole way
while the gulls watched, unmoved by the tide.
A laminated guide to the Coastal Birds of California
tucked snugly in my back pocket flew out
long before I knew it was gone. I patted my pocket
over & over as if I could will it back through force
alone. In wind like this, he said, impatiently, it’s long gone.
Even before he had finished speaking,
he began to trek back down the path,
back and back towards the trailhead, till he was
too far to call out to, and I saw a woman, bundled
and accompanied by her husband, give
something to him. I walked briskly, half ran,
to meet him, and took the guide from his certain hands.
Urvashi Bahuguna is an Indian poet and essayist. Her work has been recognized by a Tin House scholarship, fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Charles Wallace India Trust, and Sangam House, an Eclectica Spotlight Author Prize, and a TOTO Award for Creative Writing. She is the author of Terrarium (The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, 2019) and No Straight Thing Was Ever Made (Penguin India, 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages North, The Adroit Journal, Wildness, The Shore, Orion, Eclectica, Mud Season Review, UCity Review, The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net.
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