ellwood beach, 1991 by Scott Ferry

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ellwood beach, 1991
by Scott Ferry

climb the 2 x 4s up the eucalyptus
seesaw up to a platform 20 feet high
then a friend grabs the twine (a tail attached
to the thick umbilical cord pulsing 60 feet above)
and throws it up and i reach out and snag the rope
then i place one foot on the wooden slat tied
into the tendon and swallow all the gravity
then step off the perch
fingers ten prayers holding

and wind opens the teeth up the other side
of the canyon race and magnetic pause
until sweep back to the launch
head turns (to make sure physics
doesn’t malfunction and i hit the tree)
then slide back over the onlookers and a breath
and a flighted noise escapes as the distance swishes
slower closer to center 10 more pendulums
and nervously lower feet off wood
to the dust and grey-green leaves where shoes scrape
slide then stop now standing but still swimming
in epinephrine smelling like infinity

but one night after acid rolls the branches into velvet
ken and i both risk our bones for a weightless
streak and shout as the rope holds tense
just one time each and then we look up
near the elbows of the limbs and notice
the rope is frayed untangled and only
holding by 1/10th of the usual girth
and we point up and say something like
how did we not see that? and stare at each other
hoping we are not already dead and we curse
god damn but mean god bless…god thank you
and i feel like i owe a debt—a ghostly coin
a stomach of coins a throat of coins
which i have no idea how to pay back

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I found this rope swing by word of mouth while attending UC Santa Barbara. It was located in a coastal grove of eucalyptus (Ellwood Beach, Goleta, California), which also harbored thousands of monarch butterflies. The photo is not of me, but it is the actual rope swing.

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NOTE: Monarch butterflies fly to the City of Goleta, California, each year, coming from near and far across the United States west of the Rocky Mountains. As fall approaches, monarch butterflies begin what for some individuals is a 1,000 mile trip, arriving on the south coast of California in October. From October until winter storms set in, often in December, the butterflies move among many local sites. Once cold, windy and rainy weather comes to Goleta, monarch butterflies coalesce into large aggregations in the best protected locations. Ellwood Main monarch butterfly aggregation site is one of these well- protected places and has harbored overwintering butterflies for decades. (Read more in this report from the City of Goleta, California.)

PHOTO: Monarch butterflies in eucalyptus grove (Ellwood Beach, Goleta, California). Photo by City of Goleta, California.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a registered nurse. He has recent work in Misfit, American Journal of Poetry, and Cultural Weekly. His first poetry collection, The Only Thing That Makes Sense Is to Grow, is available at Amazon.com. His second book Mr Rogers Kills Fruit Flies comes out in Fall 2020 on Main St Rag. Visit him at Ferrypoetry.com.

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