Highway 106, Union, WA, November 16, 2018, 3 p.m.
My hiking boots pad along the asphalt
a rhythmic and steady thwap thwap accompanied
by the swish swish of my arms swinging
in my stiff slippery coat and the tinny
twang of my zipper head rattling against
the bottom snap as my legs stretch forward.
I step onto the shoulder and gravel
crackles and crunches under my feet
as I make way for the vehicles that whir
and whoosh, engines throbbing, tires rumbling
toward me from ahead and behind--
steady tone droning that peaks in volume
then recedes as machines speed by
one after another: school bus, pickup, SUV.
In the quiet gaps between cars other sounds
reveal themselves—though it hasn’t rained in days
water flumes down the steep hillside
tumbling forceful as a waterfall
through an open troughed pipe
into the drainage ditch sluicing alongside the road.
Below the armored embankment alongside Anna’s Bay
the water glugs and gurgles against the shore
rising to cover the stink of rotting marine life
and sea grass uncovered in the morning’s low tide.
An eagle, unseen utters its stuttering cry
from the evergreens towering above--
high pitched staccato that belies its commanding
appearance. The tiny belted kingfisher ricochets
from power line to cedar to pier piling
with voice bursting loud and rapid fire like bullets.
Seagulls float in the water ar-ar-ar-guing
their squawking frantic, insistent and grating.
I turn to walk back toward home
sun slanting low in the sky illuminating
all I’ve just heard.
I am a writer who, in December 2011, fortified by a new MFA, empty nest, and changes in my husband's employment, relocated from my native California to Washington state to see what would unfold next.