When I returned from the Westside,
Luthor had a few gaps in his sheet metal.
And it wasn’t till Tuesday morning that he told me why,
saying Noah rode a yellow motorcycle over to the south coast,
where his best old girlfriend, Raye, had hepatitis —
on the muddy side of Morro Bay by Montaña de Oro.

But the metal sculptor froze on the final hour over to the coast.
Shaking from coastal fog,
he saw a canoe and stole some firewood.

Pushed a canoe into high tide
and paddled over the shallows to the mud flats —
wearing a motorcycle helmet all the way.
Don’t smoke … paddle … darkness … stroke.
Crossing the shallows to the sandspit.

I imagined moving through the fog
without seeing anything while hearing breakers on the other side.

Her spit was out there somewhere.

Ocean’s a foot deep, scatters of fog, and a single canoe.
Hundred and forty pounds of Noah landin’ on the sandpile.
No boat … so she must have crossed the mud at low tide.

Climbing the pile as fog cleared under a moon,
Noah looked down on a small fire and Raye …
and slid down the dune to a skirt laid open on the sand.
A wasted, naked woman in a wine stupor,
warmed by her own stolen firewood.

She was camped nowhere, dying across his legs.
He had to love her … it made sense, he had to:
It felt pretty damn bad, but she’d asked him to —
and offered everything she owned if he burned her body.

Then Raye leaned into all the right places.
And Noah ran out of ideas till she died.
Then he just held her … and the wood and fire were his.

Luthor said it was the following night
before Noah burned a driftwood pyre to ashes —
then scattered her over the sandspit as fog walls
rolled in … he found the cash before navigating back.
Losing his paddle halfway; the canoe left stranded on the flats.

Now a year or more had weathered Raye into the winter sea
leading to a bitter cold evening on my way out of Fresno …