Issue 38, Summer 1966
Yesterday afternoon a girl walked by the window and stooped for sea shells. I was wrenched out of two months of calm. Nothing more than that, certainly, nothing ecstatic or even interesting, but very silent and even, as those periods have become for me. I had been breathing in and out through the golden days, out and in, calmly, grateful for once to do just that, staring at the waves plopping in, successful at thinking almost nothing, handling easily the three memories I have manufactured, when that girl stooped for sea shells. There was something about her large breasts under her faded blue tee shirt, the quick way she bent down, her firm legs in their rolled up white jeans, her thin ankles it was her feet, actually; they seemed for a brief, painful moment to be elegant. It was that thin boned brittle movement with her feet that did it, that touched some spot that I had forgotten to smother. The way those thin feet remained planted, yet shifting slightly in the sand as^she bent down quickly for a clam shell, sent my heart thumping, my mouth dry, no exaggeration, there was something gay and insane about that tiny gesture because it had nothing to do with her.
I went to Smitty’s, a roadhouse a quarter of a mile down the beach. When I came back, she was gone. I could not sit in my room. The walls closed in on me. I could see the walls closing in on me, and my situation, if that is what it is, a situation, seemed suddenly so dull and hopeless; this cheap thrown together guest house of imitation redwood on the California coast with its smell of mold and bad plumbing, the inane view from my window of driftwood and seaweed, flat predictable waves, corny writings in the sand, potbellied fishermen and bronzed god like volleyball players. I had to pull out, I thought, I was beginning to notice things, lists were forming, comparisons were on the way. And now I don’t have the octopus. I suppose that is what there is to tell about. Then I’ll move on. Last night there was a storm and I abandoned the octopus. I didn’t really abandon the octopus, it’s still in the bathysphere on the truck bed and the truck bed is still up on blocks, but it’s not the same anymore. I’m going to move on alone.