CALIFORNIA 1966

The earth was brown and green and hot, and there wasn’t enough money to eat, so you picked beans in a field for a few dollars a day but didn’t last more than two. You thought tomatoes would be easier, but they weren’t. You sold something. A ring. A bracelet. A first edition. You found the ocean and drank Pepsi on the sand, and you were brown and brined with nothing but change in your pockets. Two dollars for all those beans. Three for tomatoes. How much for that ring? You bought a dollar-bag of burgers. You bought chewing gum. You bought beer. And none of it lasted, and none of it returned, but you didn’t want it to last or to return. You had what you wanted and you called it nothing. Empty, free, skin and sand. You slept empty. You awakened empty. You held your empty cups in your hands, and you were hungry, so goddamn hungry, wrought and boned, spit and spindled, arms and hearts fixed to your bodies with nothing but ache. You walked a long stretch of beach. Empty shells. Empty gulls. The long, lorn sea. And when the tide came in by surprise, you climbed a cliff you thought you couldn’t climb and walked the highway back to the car.

Naomi Anna Kimbell’s writing has been published in the Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Bright Bones, The Sonder Review, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, and other journals and anthologies. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

Composition by Daniel Liu.