A Sensuous Pause
by Frank Zahn
I come to you, Santa Barbara, in late spring when poets gather at the Miramar to laugh and cry. The sun burns off the morning haze and warms the yellow sand beneath my feet. I watch sea gulls monitor the endless rush and retreat of the surf in search of food. Quiet breezes cool my skin, and I taste sea salt on my lips.
The land abounds with palms and pines and birds of paradise that reach into the sky and watch over me. Along city streets and Highway 101, and in parks and gardens, I see blue and pink hydrangeas, jacaranda trees laden with purple blossoms, and cascades of red and purple bougainvillea. I smell honeysuckle, lavender, and star jasmine. The thought of lemons and oranges ripening in backyards and foothill groves makes my mouth water for fresh-squeezed orange juice and lemonade.
I watch each day end with a dazzling sunset from a lofty Spanish tile and stucco home I rent in the foothills. As the reds and yellows of the sunset fade into twilight, and the sea air turns chilly, I look forward to light supper and restful sleep.
Each year, I am tempted to give up my life in another place and remain with you, Santa Barbara, but alas, you can be no more than a sensuous pause—a complement, not a substitute. Like a soft, exquisite woman with warm breasts and loins, you caress, heal, and renew my spirit, then take your place in my memories.
Copyright © 1997 Frank Zahn. Published in The Criterion, Volume 5 Issue II April 2014; Perceptions: Prose and Other Poetry, Grove 49 eBooks (Kindle Edition) 2016.
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