Was the drummer. Everything was tinted
In blue on the West Side,
I kept dancing with Popcorn, I was
Supposed to be getting down
Breathing in the floating smoke.
Where were we from, they asked.
The far west side of the country. An ocean
With no smoke but various blues. A beach
Slanting down to a swash around the ankles.
We would call when we got there
And say hello, keep in touch. We would
Send a box of beach-combings with that
Salt smell unwinding from ropes of weeds.
They could use whatever drugs would enhance
The experience of opening the box.
They would go on playing the great sounds
Of their smoke, our fog, something
Like that since we couldn’t be together
Ever again, except there, in the tight,
Cool grooves of the scallop shell.
Sandra McPherson is the author of twelve poetry collections, most recently Quicksilver, Cougars, and Quartz (Salmon Poetry, due 2020). Her latest poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, AGNI, Whitefish, Red Wheelbarrow, Poetry, and elsewhere. Founder and former editor of Swan Scythe Press, she taught poetry for twenty-three years at the University of California at Davis and for four years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her collection of sixty-seven African-American improvisational quilts is housed at the UC Davis Design Department. (updated 4/2020)