The Woman in Artichoke Green
A late August afternoon:
the sun wallows in the breakers
like an old dog rolling in something that smells
happy as the sea lions on the beach
Here on holiday we stand
on the sidewalk, watch the slick beasts,
and pretend this day is forever—
until a brick-red SUV pulls up
A woman in artichoke green steps out:
a floppy hat, a summer dress, and matching sling backs,
offset by lipstick the color of the car
and, of course, a Coach bag.
Gold drips from lobes and fingers
that shimmer with rage.
She points at the pinnipeds.
They ignore her.
“I pay plenty to rent here
but those things are spoiling my summer!
They’re noisy. They stink. And they’re lazy!
Somebody ought to shoot them.”
Someone who once shot humans overseas
tells her off. She turns on her little heels,
leaves, and leaves me wondering
what it would take to make her wish to coexist.
Elocution lessons, to modulate those joyous honks?
Deodorant under the flippers?
Jobs at a marine show? Or even better,
carrying trays in the café near her hotel,
frilly little aprons tied round those thick necks,
hustling for tips.
And perhaps, I imagine,
the woman in green
will try the sea lions’ trade, will strip,
drop hat and sandals on the strand
and dive into the chill Pacific
and learn to catch fish with her teeth.