Tag Archives San Francisco

PACIFIC BATHOS

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We are going to observe the California

Sea Lions – those celebrated aquatic

mammals – at Pier 39, Fishermen’s Wharf,

San Francisco. We walk from the Handlery

to Union Square then board the street car

at 3rd & Kearny and descend, past

the Dragon Gate in Chinatown, left

at the Ferry Building and so to the Pier –

a place of family entertainment, with

a floating restaurant and two tier

carousel. On the marina’s wooden pontoons

families of sea lions bask. To our surprise

they smell like a freshly opened and

very large tin of anchovy fillets preserved

in brine. To our further surprise nobody

else seems to have noticed, or to care.

 

***

 

Out of the fretwork shadow of the Bay Bridge

dominating the office window,

away from Kaspar Gutman and Wilma Cook,

from Iva Archer and Ruth Wonderly,

away from the cable cars’ ratchet and clang,

the horns in the distant bay, down a side street,

out of the fog, and into the grilled meat

fug of gossip, the Lucky Strikes

and waiters’ bustling hustle at John’s Grill,

Sam Spade orders chops, baked potato

and sliced tomatoes – in two dimensions,

always black and white, ten point or ten foot high,

celluloid or paper, like the city

always friable and combustible!

 

***

 

From the stretch of water between the

Maritime Museum and Alcatraz,

brown pelicans rise like tawny galleons.

 

 

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