by Jonathan Yungkans
The island is Eneepah to the Chumash Islanders, meaning ever-changing or deceptive
or perhaps mirage. Like the picture of California’s best view I saw online—
the spine of Santa Monica Mountains rising from the Pacific, grey against deep blue,
clouds purple bruises above them and the distant sunset gold. Nothing about
thousands of squawking Western Gulls that descend for Spring mating
and were everywhere the day I landed. Glaring and squawking and flying straight
for the tallest person in the tour group—me—while I was doing my best
to tread soft around brown puffballs baby-stepping toward trails. Nothing
about the overcast that hovered above us, a wet concrete shroud
the sun pulled off us an hour or so before we were to leave—just long enough
for fog to hide the scene. As if water were a mirage
that became a couple hundred dolphins leaping alongside our boat to the mainland,
a pod the size of which the captain said he’d never seen—
an eneepah before my eyes, the ocean ever-changing but anything but deceptive.
Previously published in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Issue 6 (Jan 2021).
PHOTO: Lighthouse on Anacapa Island, Channel Islands, California. Photo by David Mark.
NOTE: Anacapa Island is a small volcanic island located about 11 miles off the coast of Port Hueneme, California, in Ventura County. Composed of a series of narrow islets six miles long, the island is oriented generally east–west and five miles east of Santa Cruz Island. The three main islets, East, Middle, and West Anacapa, are collectively known as The Anacapas. All three islets have precipitous cliffs, with steep drop-offs to the sea. Anacapa is the smallest of the northern islands of the Channel Islands archipelago, and is within Channel Islands National Park.
PHOTO: Middle and West Anacapa Islands from Inspiration Point on East Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park, California. Photo by Steve Hymon.
MAP: The Channel Islands (in dark green) relative to mainland California.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I saw an article and pictures of Anacapa Island on the KCET public television website and found I could travel there free from Ventura on my birthday. Once on the island, you’re there all day. The gulls were hostile and did not let up most of the time we were there. The dolphins made the trip worthwhile.
PHOTO: Dolphins in the Pacific Ocean, with Anacapa Island, Channel Islands, California, in the background. Photo by Sandi Jiloranch.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who earned an MFA from California State University, Long Beach, while working as an in-home health-care provider. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published in February 2021 by Tebor Bach Publishing.