1 I've lived my life on streets that stumble into streets. Each house crowds the next like relatives. Mariposa Buena Vista Riverside Catalina; names should mean more than roads of campers ready for the weekend. I've seen my father grow white in this land of never-ending sun. 2 They speak with strange inflections, circling around pointing to yes just that spot where yesterday old Isaac passed away. Like displaced Bible pictures they crowd the Venice benches backs turned to the quarter-mile beach and talk of Israel as if it were an hour's walk. 3 In Detroit when I was seven, my uncle returned. California land of sun and good health His veins burst before he sold the store but we came, living out his dreams like good Christians, working hard all year for a two-week vacation. 4 As I walk the promenade old women prod me with their canes. They call me Cossack, fingers bent around the corner of the bench. The stores mime the people, chalked gray cracked, ridden by the heat. It's 90 but the women scarve themselves. Sweat comes hard. My bare head viewed with suspicion. 5 Rows of cracked stucco, palm trees dead skin chafing in the Santa Ana winds. The sun burning my brother well, stretching me like a Moses rod. Even then smog levelled the valley, the cruel highlight of Spanish tract houses, my father's first words Here you'll grow healthy and tall. 6 They come at night children from New York Chicago Pittsburgh Detroit. They prowl the Venice beaches hunting hipsters, crowding into filthy bars. The others hide in old hotels, waiting for daylight and gentle water over bones.
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Warren Wedin email@example.com