On Christmas Day, Kathleen and I
propel a raft with plastic spoons
through the hissing fur of surf,
stirring as we go
an Alka-Seltzer sun.
We pass Bolinas-Stinson School,
the fire house, and Smiley's dive;
extinguished geodesic domes
along the mesa road
where Cream Saroyan lives.
With a telescope, my sister spies
the erstwhile chemist of Argonne
who left his post to polish glass.
As penance, he engraves
a glyph of hydrogen
on the blank face of every cliff
from Monterey to Inverness.
Beside us, cormorants describe
the chop in grunts, then plunge
through thirty feet of grease.
I try to hold my breath as long
and cheat or fail. As evening comes
we pass the final spit of land.
Once more around the Horn
and then we'll make for home.