Refugio Beach

Refugio Beach. Photo by David Cantu.

Brother piles sand on his pregnant girlfriend’s belly. 
On her sandy stomach I draw a belly button. Soon it will be dusk 

and the last surfers in the distance will disappear 
from this winter beach. We find ourselves here in a cove beneath 

the sway of palm trees; we find ourselves here marked 
by a place named beautiful in an old language that knows 

the sound the creek makes as it flows into the Pacific; we find 
ourselves here as family, me on vacation from college and them 

on vacation from a grit city, a rough-necked inland place of splintering 
concrete. Soon, but not yet First Son will be born, 

face brown and smooth as a well-washed stone. I try to catch 
a wave – this moment with my feet, don’t want it to go because

I want more of this, to wolf down a place, the blue
inside of me. Hide in the slope of this crescent

beach, far away from Bullet. We can keep 
our secrets here, in the tar that stains our feet black. 

We are not a delicate people, don’t mind the stain 
of ocean. The tide will rise with the moon but I am not ready to leave;

toes curling against sand. Later we fall asleep to waves but awaken 
to the rude sounds of the metro link reminding us this refuge is only temporary.  

Casandra López is a California Indian (Cahuilla/Tongva/Luiseño) and Chicana writer who has received support from CantoMundo, Bread Loaf, and Tin House. She’s the author of the poetry collection Brother Bullet and has been selected for residencies with the School of Advanced Research, Storyknife, Hedgebrook, and Headlands Center for the Arts. Her memoir-in-progress, A Few Notes on Grief, was granted a 2019 James W. Ray Venture Project Award. She’s a founding editor of As/Us and teaches at Northwest Indian College.

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