Because We Only Know How to Measure

by Laurel Benjamin

Fishermen know. I would come upon them
in the fog, surprised both of us,
creases in sand dunes like hideouts
as the Pacific caught my shoes
unseen until barely light
and bubbles in the tide, clams talking

as loud as the surf.
The men never nodded, just beated
their poles out, knowing forward motion
would save them, and soon the sun
would rise full and they would lose
their moment, pack up their gear,
walk up to the parking,
remove their boots, their macs,

and leave.
Now in the second year of the virus
retrospective photos show streets, cafes,
whole city blocks shut down.
Shuttered shops dovetail with protests
against police, and now groceries

carboarded up again
and my curtains came out uneven,
one panel a nine inch hem
the other uncontrolled, pins dropping
with their blink blink, and I put too much pasta
in the casserole, bechamel sauce taking
the supporting role
for even if we know the practice of sewing, of cooking,

we are not guaranteed the outcome
of one year and the heat of the next—
which terms do we use to describe
what we cannot control
and cannot name
(though we name it)
the arc of embers.

Laurel Benjamin holds an MFA from Mills College. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s PoetryCalifornia Quarterly, The Midway ReviewMac Queens Quinterly, Wild Roof Journal, Tiny Seed, WordFest Anthology, Global Quarantine Museum Pendemics issue, Ekphrastic Review Bird Watching Challenge finalist, Oregon Poetry Association’s Poetry Contests honorable mention, Sunspot Literary Journal’s long list, among others.She is affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Port Townsend Writers. Jim Baron is the owner, with his wife Liz, of the Dallas-based Blue Mesa Grill restaurants and TNT/Tacos and Tequila. He’s been a surf bum all his life, with his late brother Bob and younger brother Dan. He spends a couple hours every day painting water colors, and happiness for him is being on the beach with Liz, Kate, Zak, Ian, and Lola, the labradoodle, who runs the show.