Found

Day 13: Serially Found
Writing Prompt: write about finding something

Found

Like so many seashells,
you came rushing onto Kayak Beach, along many waves
washing gently, then roughly. Gently, then roughly.
Alternating and aimless. Aimless and sure. Sure and
roughly remained…into our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
you happened upon the shore of Kayak Beach, as
indiscriminate a destination as any could be, yet you
cannot stay, cannot be let…alone. You see, you are
not native nor mythical, historical nor neutral. You are not
Miwok, mermaid or link posterior to paper uncles,
brothers or sons. Your anthropology is of little use,
here. Even a throwaway coke bottle, glassily disposable
sarcophagus of a bottle, as impossibly likely as that would be,
would have been better than being the wrong sort of accidental,
discovered face down and incidentally. Touched
and turned by our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
the shore at Kayak Beach is another fragment of your
story that is now another fragment of the stories
already here. Like them, you will be detained. You
will be quarantined, examined, and catalogued. You will
be policed, sanitized, and reported. Reported and
deported into hands that are not our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
you came wet and slick to Kayak Beach with ten
fingers and ten toes. You were big, heavy, and male.
At least 6 feet, 2 inches. One hundred eighty-six pounds.
Four decades, plus some. With hair. A head full of
hair, nearly medium length, lustering russet
in the sun with no patch of baldness. Your eyes,
perhaps once cinnamon in shade, are now
bark.

You were perfect, though not perfect.
Your eyelashes are short, save for a sharp lash branching
like a laden limb from the left lid. And there are tanless
lines lining the sides of your face, smooth and
goateed, with demure lima bean shaped indentations
on either side of your nose. Once upon a time you may
have been unkindly called four eyes or more cruelly fag, freak,
nerd, geek. Then again, glasses may have been post-pubescently
prescribed along the years to middle age. We can tell you
took care of your teeth. Brushed and flossed regularly. But cannot
tell if you were melliflous or stunted in speech. There are no caps
and no cavities. There is, though, a chip on the front right incisor.
Could you have acquired it playing sports, getting pushed around or
in a fight, or less remarkably from ordinary clumsiness?

There are moles.
Twinned moles on the right side bone jutting from the elbow,
several across your back, one above the knee, on your clavicle, and
on your big toe, the left one. Your toenails, by the way, are craggy
and overgrown, not at all like your square, impeccable nails.

There are scars.
A toyon berry sized one snugged in the bend of the right
knee. And less oddly, another on the side of the upper left arm,
puckered into a small mound. You were immunized. We have
similar puckering in similar places.

There is a birthmark.
In the center of your chest, away from your heart, a
crescent of stars, faintly scattering away beneath the hair
just short of the right aureola. There was, is nothing
else, save that you are circumcised.

You came to us
—at the eleventh hour in the eleventh month—
without music, without claim of who you are, wished, or were set to be.
Rain was in the air and with it, the season’s cold.
You were dressed dark and fitted in medium lycra shirt and shorts.
Shoeless, soxless, muscular, and lean. Unclaimed and unfound. You are
John Doe.

We do not guess what shore you fled to flee.
And will not guess what shore you sought to seek.
Or what siren call called you down, down and
down from the Golden Gate to the scyllian waters
circling our island of 800 acres Angel land
with its own history to bear and its own ghosts to carry.
We leave be. Amongst the three of us,
among us three you are Solomon. Puente. Atlas.
A real name. Not perfect, though less perfunctory.

Like so many seashells,
sprackled along the coast of Kayak Beach, we do not covet
you. Were we not so kelped in our humanity, its salt of
sustenance and shit, we could have seen, yes we might have,
so to speak, seen yours wrangling through wave and anti-wave. We
would like you to be interned into the higher places in our hearts, but that
would be false.

Forgive us our weak regret, our limpid sorrow. We
are not angels. We are human. And selfishly alive.
Your face is a terrible photograph we are trying
to remember lightly so no shadow is left, no trace felt
in our hands having ever encountered—

two, four, six…
to be exact—

of them ever having encountered you
(as debris from the bay) at all.

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7 thoughts on “Found

  1. Wow, well written poem that drew me in more and more (like waves to the ocean 😉 ). At first I felt like I was starting off on just any poem, as poems go, but the more I read on the more I was pulled into this. Until eventually my heart was even wrapped up in it. I would be interested in knowing the story behind this were you ever to want to share it.

    The ending is very well done, the emotion is true and strong. I can just imagine wanting to remember and not wanting to all at once. I also really appreciate how you describe what you saw/know but you approach it with a softness that respects life. 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you! This gentleman was discovered at the Kayak Beach shore at Angel Island by some visitors. My husband, who was the ranger on duty at the time, attended to securing and caring for the body until was shipped to the mainland for the police and coroner to follow up. Angel Island was actually the “Ellis Island” of the west. Between the early 1900s until about 1940, thousands of Chinese immigrants (mostly men) were processed at the island’s immigration station. However, due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, many were detained for years while they waited for a decision on their status. The questioning was intense and anyone who didn’t pass was sent back to China. During this time, the men lived in barracks and some carved poetry into the walls. Eventually, the barracks were closed. Through a restoration of the building, some of the poetry has been recovered and is currently displayed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for sharing this history, pretty incredible really, and for sharing the story behind your poem. It is a beautiful tribute after all. 🙂 I was not aware of Angel Island, now I am.

        Sounds like a difficult job at times for your husband.

        Like

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