by J. C. Runolfson

for Jennifer Smith

She boards the train in Agua Dulce
where there has not been water of any kind
for a millenium, at least.
She's lost track,
never learned to tell time
in shifting grains of sand
only the tide,
which now and evermore rolls back from her.
She followed the wagons
they call schooners.
She sat among the stones
said to sail.
She is a forecast more certain
than any they are learning to tell:
no rain today.
No water but what's already in the pail,
running out of the irrigation ditches,
soaked up into the cacti's hearts.
As though imparting a great secret,
the man next to her says this region
used to be an ocean,
sighs and does not stir the dust
overlaid from bowler hat to boot sole.
From his pocket he pulls sea glass,
a blue fragment glimmering in merciless sunlight
he declares is all that's left.
She is leaving,
it's true.
She'd ask him where he found it
had she voice in this dryness.
The train begins to move, bound for the coast,
a receding goal since she surrendered home,
but she doesn't know
how to stop chasing waves.
Behind her come monsoons,
the flash floods to unbury
the ship wrecked under the dunes.

J. C. Runolfson's work has appeared in numerous places, including previously in Goblin Fruit. She can sometimes be spotted babbling about her dogs, the Four Puppies of the Apocalypse, knitting all the things, and boggling at Florida's wildlife as only a Southern Californian can on her blog.

When asked what fantasy book/fantasy world government she would most want to live under, if the choice presented itself, she answered, "Star Trek's Federation of Planets looks pretty good. I'm a junkie for democracy, which is not so much the preferred sort of government in speculative literature."

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