Though I’d come half a continent
and would’ve liked to see, you didn’t
take the turn for the Redwoods
as we drove up Highway 1, didn’t even mention
we were so close as I missed the sign,
focused on clues to the puzzle nuzzled
on my lap, reading them to you again
and again. You made sure we took time
to explore the town where Clint Eastwood lived
and maybe Joan Baez. This before everyone
had a fact-checker and GPS on their phone,
we were left guessing, not straying too far
from the freeway. Salinas Valley overcast, drizzly,
heading back, you said you wished we would have
stopped at the Hearst mansion back on the coast
while out my window migrants bent, picked the harvest,
filled baskets, baskets packed on trucks, trucks
driven off to the processing plant and then
the supermarket. You got a latte at Starbucks
drive-through. What did I get? Can’t remember.
Probably plain black tea. We slept at your sister’s
guest cottage where you had to watch out
for mountain lions if you went outside at night,
though at first I thought she said even in daylight,
so I kept to the porch, scanning nearby ridges while you
went for a drive all alone so you could smoke
without anyone else seeing you.

Jan Carroll’s books are Enough of a Path to Get Through and With What’s Left: Gardening, Earth-Tending, and Keeping On in the Midst of Climate Crisis which is available at The Local Store. For more by and about Jan, go here.

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