“Bolinas Bay, The Return” by Tom Daley 

Bolinas Bay, Tom Daley

The gents who grew arborvitae that blocked your view and told you you ought to move somewhere else if you didn’t like it were in Italy when the fire blew up from Surfers’ Outlook.

Five years after the fire, the apple trees in the yard of the Mushroom House still shake off a little charcoal every time it blows over the ridge from Duxbury Reef. Funny how fast the grass grows back, but not so much the houses. All the millionaires have decamped from this hilltop, but this spring the lilies are blooming in what’s left of your front yard after a rain that would have reminded you of living in London.

Today the air cleared as the sun rose, and even the reek of old smoke has been bleached from the air.  There’s no potable water for miles, but still some of the diehard hippies who squatted here in their youth come to pitch their tents in the dry season, before the fires start again. The ocean’s warm enough to swim in all year round, but the harbor seals have headed north, and so have the Great Whites. 

I know it’s too sad for you to ever come back, but I wanted you to know that the moon still balances itself between the burnt beams in your living room, still streams with the strange kindness that kept us safe from the singe.  


Tom Daley’s poetry has appeared in North American Review, Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, 32 Poems, Fence, Denver Quarterly, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Witness, and elsewhere. He is a recipient of the Dana Award in Poetry. FutureCycle Press published his collection of poetry, House You Cannot Reach—Poems in the Voice of My Mother and Other Poems. He is the author of a play, Every Broom and Bridget—Emily Dickinson and Her Irish Servants, which he performs as a one-man show. He leads writing workshops in the Boston area and online for poets and writers working in creative prose.

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