by Zoe Forsyth

Reading Moby Dick on a Hill in California

By Christopher Murnane

I was reading Moby Dick on a hill in California
on a beautiful winter day, a day after a storm,
the kind of day that makes you want to fuck outdoors.
In the air, radiance and a red shouldered hawk,
crying in the sun, proud of her body,
proclaiming its glory and perhaps hoping to get laid.
I, too, was there alone, but I kept quiet,
not ready to declare myself, so
there in a plastic chair on the wet earth I read.

The story of Ahab, Ishmael, inside me;
the morning, the world, around me;
I went between them to locate myself:
            book— Atlantic, tempest, madness
            world— Pacific, redwood, Highway 1
            book— jawbone, mast-head, night watch, white whale
            world— Godlight, green grass, airplanes, steep trail, solitude
            me— somewhere in the middle and
the middle is everywhere,
between everything,
between gruesome nothingness
and mortal somethingness, forever
bleeding into the center, and
the center is everywhere.

The center is everywhere and a harpoon
is thrown at it;
the center is everywhere and a lit cigarette
is flicked in it;
the center is everywhere and a hawk
flies through it;
the center is everywhere and the sun, like a man,
crawls toward it.

Considering all this, I set down my book,
stood and pissed proudly into the sun,
watching distant blue Monterey,
yawning trees, groaning earth.
In the air, love and emptiness. Look—
the sky swallows the earth whole.