Newport Journal–Kazim Ali

Walking down the mossy steps to the beach.

Long green whips, the seaweed we saw at Point Reyes once, each with its green-ghost head, piles of them everywhere and sometimes one calligraphed across the sand.

Swift air, water always rushing three different ways.

Newport at the edge of the continent, ocean here not receding away into depth but dropping immediately.

In Seattle, the pines were so tall, with no low branches, my mind went quickly back to Jenpeg, to my cold cold childhood.

Like Madison, living in water, between lakes, water on three sides.

But Seattle, unlike Newport, protected from endless horizon by the islands. Here you only look and look.

Portland on the river, driving through at night, ablaze with lights.

I thought, turning off the highway to drive to the shore, I would be trapped in the rainy night forever.

Coming through the last stand of trees into town I was shocked to find it, big, dirty, grittier than Beacon, plainer than Shippensburg, a fishing town without fishing anymore.

Only last week, five different people told me on the same day, a couple had been swept from the jetty out to sea.

As I walked I thought: I love it, this, walking along the edge of the sea. The sea without end.

Everything without end. Duras gave it to me: other languages, a softer sense, other ways of knowing through the sea.

Language without knowing, without sound, without sense. Sans cesse.

Now sitting in a warm restaurant, drinking spicy coconut soup and reading poetry by Larry Eigner and Jean Valentine.

Lost always in loss.

I want to look at my hands. I want to say something in the language of the ocean, the language of the rain.

Tonight I go to the art gallery overlooking the ocean to read poems. I drink coffee and dream about transforming.

Hurrying back to the hotel I miss my chance to see the second lighthouse, the more famous one at the northern end of town.

At the reading the people are very friendly and excited and then leave one by one. My co-reader is going to have dinner with friends and I am left in the middle of the parking lot, cold and getting colder.

There is a café down the street that serves vegetarian food and hot drinks, I am told.

La mer sans cesse. I hurry down the road. I miss my father.

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