Vals Go Home

And each winter, we told each other our myths: how summer

loved our valley the way that our valley loved the oranges and

the palms.

The way that we had forgotten what a billion years had done. Salt

underneath our fingernails, cracked-open clams—symbolizations of our


pre-drought conditions—the farmed groves, the immigrant palms:

the way eyes tasted rain. And maybe valley kids aren't meant to be


skateboards over surfboards, and at the beaches, Santa Monica, Zuma,

Malibu—rocks graffiti-ed with Vals go home. Still, Kimmy loves to swim.

Even after

this local beach creep called her an abalone and shoved his hand

down her bikini looking for her pearl. She ran, and the valley kids

ran after him.

When they found Kimmy, bleeding, she said it wasn't him. But who

didn’t imagine the first daggers then. Razors of cracked clamshell,

shark’s tooth,

copper, obsidian. Black shrapnel of mirrored glass. Black tools to use

against him. Even our fields of barley grass will slice your palm if you run it along

a stalk just wrong. These days, nearly every home’s got a swimming pool,

some full for swimming, some drained for skating. My friend Michael doesn’t swim

or skate, only wears his pet snake, and a golden razor blade. Takes the bus

from the valley to Long Beach to see his family, and then back to the valley again.

Some days, we walk for miles across citrus orchards, unpaved streets,

farms growing small, low things. We argue about God. We argue

about evolution.

About how this is desert, he says,

and I say, about how this is ocean.

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