by Kristi Shelloner
The blue tarps stretch like butterfly wings
from the side of the white Datsun,
just in time for night to fall
and blanket us in dark velvet.
We feel rich, surrounded as we are
by the earth’s abundance.
Beach grasses make our bed,
soft and yielding,
a place to lay our heads,
that is inviting.
The rain cascades and runs
in rivers down the tarp,
plopping divots in the sand.
We are dry and grateful,
surrounded by water,
offering of the universe.
In the morning the Forest Service
stops and tells us we are wrong.
We must sleep only on the pavement
of the parking lot,
or far out on the beach.
We have hurt the grass.
I think: only a white man would sleep
or make his camp 20 yards from his pony
in the pouring rain.
You can’t tie a tarp off to the wind.
The Forest Service says laws are made to protect people’s rights.
I wonder who he’s talking about,
the people, maybe,
who come here to play frisbee
and leave their trash along the shoreline,
or maybe the RVs who belch poison into the air,
but our campfires are the danger.
There’s no point in explaining this.
It’ll only get you put in jail.
We leave our precious grass,
I leave a strand of hair, burnished copper on the dusky green,
my color all I have to offer;
for the sweetness of the night.
We wish the Forest Service a good day.