6.9 Off Humboldt Bay ~ Jeff Ewing


Far from shore the ocean floor ripples,
shrugs and steals our footing, skews
the horizon from its beam. A single wave

larger and darker touches the beach
where elk turn to look out, ears cocked,
hooves raised and trembling. Inland

dust rises like a rug shaken out, hazes
the sky strung loosely from mountain
to mountain, settling after some thought

onto the leaves of the olive trees above
Corning. Later the trees will carry the dust
into the dark, infusing the sparse stars

with a taste of the earth. There’s a joke
that goes: What is the difference between
ignorance and arrogance? I don’t know

and I don’t care. But if by chance you do
this rickety invention can seem—
in early morning and near dinner time

with shaken light breaking or falling
across uncowed hills—a hard place
to leave, should you be asked, in peace.