“Destination: Beautiful” by Eugenia Leigh

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Eugenia Leigh

DESTINATION: BEAUTIFUL

I’ve come to hunt a time capsule at the west end
of Sunset Boulevard. To rummage the beach for remnants
of old friends who’ve abandoned themselves to sprout

new families. Suddenly everyone has cleaved
to strangers made of diamonds and cake, capable of waving away
whole bruised childhoods—rotten fruits we used to feed

this drooling ocean. Years ago, a friend and I
hiked the Will Rogers trail. We caught a dim rainbow
at the cliff, where he stood and hid

his hands in his pockets. We sucked in the Pacific,
the traffic. We met an elderly man called Timothy—a retired
tour guide who slept in his car with a book of red-letter scripture

seatbelted next to him. I hoped I would die
on that mountain because I thought, that close to God,
it would be a hassle to send me to hell.

In the memory of that day, I am alone. The friend is there—also
alone. He leans from the cliff and scans the city dots
for his beautiful girl. His, now,

wife. Wife. The word bends like a soft
branch in my mouth. I’ve learned not to choke on it
by lying achingly still. The waves reach and reach for me

over the black ocean. The tender white hands of children
petting a large, harmless corpse.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012
2013 Neil Postman Award Winner