North of Santa Monica
by Carter Revard
It’s midnight in a drizzling fog
on Sunset Avenue and we are walking
through the scent of orange blossoms and past
a white camellia blown down or flung by someone
onto rainblack asphalt waiting
for the gray Mercedes sedan to run over
and smash its petals and leave us walking in
the smell of Diesel exhaust with
Where the next blue morning
and the gray Pacific meet
as the Palisades fall away
two sparrowhawks are beating
their tapered wings in place, watching
for jay or chewink to stray too far
from their thorny scrub to get back—
and the female suddenly towers,
her wings half-close and she stoops like
a dropping dagger, but down
the steep slope she rockets past them and turns
again into updraft to the clifftops to hover—
as the jay peers out through thorns,
and the lines of white surf whisper in.
PHOTO: Stairway leading up to Palisades Park in Santa Monica, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Photo by MSPhotographic, used by permission.
NOTE: Palisades Park is a 26.4-acre park in Santa Monica, California with exposed bluffs, offering views of both the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains. This long linear park contains public art, a rose garden, and historic structures, as well as benches, picnic areas, and the historic Santa Monica Camera Obscura.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carter Curtis Revard is an American poet, scholar, and writer of European American and Osage descent, who grew up on the tribal reservation in Oklahoma. He had early education in a one-room schoolhouse, and won a Quiz Bowl scholarship for college, attending the University of Tulsa for his BA. His Osage name, Nompehwahthe, was given to him in 1952 by Josephine Jump, his Osage grandmother. The same year, he won a Rhodes Scholarship for graduate work at Oxford University. After completing a PhD at Yale University, Revard spent most of his academic career at Washington University at St. Louis, where he specialized in medieval British literature and linguistics. Since 1980, Revard has become notable as a Native American poet and writer, and has published several books, as well as numerous articles about the literature, receiving numerous awards for this work. His poetry collections include How the Songs Come Down (2005).