from We are a Fugitive Assemblage

William Randolph Hearst, notorious, was born rich. His father, George Hearst, made his money mining in the Comstock Lode, among others. With foresight, he bought up the land to the West, including Piedra Blanca Ranch in San Simeon. The Hearsts crossed paths with my family but they never actually intersected. Venn diagrams would show shared locations, pathways, interests (mining, for one), but in the loops outside of that common central intersection would be degrees of luck. Lucky on one side and unlucky on the other. A camp without a fire in this wet place was not to be thought of. My grandfather, as a kid, shared soup with hobos down by the railroads outside central Stockton. Massacre in Texas. Warm meal of unknown origin. Sweet onions. Sour earth, dirt stinking of roots. Thought is a shackle. Nancy Hunt laid his body away in the best manner…but there was no grass for the cattle. So she pushed on. Starting her journey with a sick man she ended it a widow in Sacramento. Hired out at the mines and married a year later in white, with embroidered pink flowers. Past the turn off to the Hearst Castle, north of Cambria, south of Point Piedras Blancas. For a moment I saw Nancy’s eyes, her pink flowers. This California too full of ghosts, even riding the coast rather than the inland valleys, the ghosts ride shotgun, take up the back seat. I could pretend all the rage that stored up in each generation could finally rest easy in me but that would be a lie. California common murre, fur seal, great white shark, the airstrips and bombs. I digress. Boats looking wicked and humped…boats made stranger by the sand. Wheeling and crying. If we had plenty of provisions…if we were bold enough…if we had a boat…if we knew the way.

Digress, egress, corrupt the air and cause plagues, sickness storms, shipwrecks, wrapped sheets, silences, fires, loneliness, grief, inundations

you are a fugitive assemblage.

Jennifer Calkins is an evolutionary biologist, writer and law student living in Seattle. Her Story of Witchery was published by Les Figues. The Quail Diaries (Blurb Publishing) emerged out of her research project in Mexico. You can find her sometimes on Twitter at @jdcalkins2001.

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