Climbed down sloped hillsides on the chain of man made locks toward the Pacific Ocean, dreaming of moments standing in the grocery store parking lot overlooking the surf. The structure is aged cedar; other dwellings are carved into the hillside in relief. Residents here retire inside the mountain. This single point along the highway is like a knuckle extended from a flat row of fingers, always windswept. I happen on this bend of highway with thoughts fractured; my hair is always tousled from exposure. Some words, in sequence, feel as though they’ve been rearranged from something else. I run a finger over my ear, waiting.
As the rains began, gusts kicking sideways, up from the crashing waters, I opted for the carousel jigsaw puzzle over a bottle of spirits. You opened and extended your jaw, removing from your row of neat, white teeth an expression of sublime confusion. The box sat face down on the sunroom table. It remained unopened. I was cross-legged, picking my pleas out of future communication, replacing it with commentary on salmon migrations. Will anyone know the feeling of unclipped fins on their legs again? This will be your response.
In the end, I took the puzzle, laying it on top of my things. As I climbed the mountains on my way back, I saw oceans over my shoulder. Returning seemed out of the question, the way two people speaking in a foreign tongue always sound like they are in disagreement. One has to look at their eyes, their hands and their body language. Words alone will not do. This will be my response. No matter what the order is, what we say to one another is strange.
I tore open the box and emptied the carousel jigsaw puzzle into the middle of the road. A car swept from inland, sending the pieces scattering into the gloaming, into the brush. Even then though, I did not believe this was an adequate sacrifice.
To read more of Erick Mertz work check out the 2013 issue of Gold Man Review.