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Poetry Feature: “Over-Steeped San Diego” by Flora Snowden

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Over-Steeped San Diego

 

August, when the clouds reflected so
clearly on the rough surf that their line
of separation hid in plain sight

 

We walked the pier
Salt-sticky wood and gray wind
wild hooves chasing each other
We were suspended
over the thrashing waves
beneath the tangling manes
Sometimes my words just get in the way
so you held my eyes in the gray and smiled
When we got to the end it was closed

 

I keep coming back to here

 

That summer I spent missing someone,
I came to bury a first heartbreak,
tried to leave him in the sand but instead
blanketed my feet in beside our empty sushi take-out containers
and paralleled my line of sight with yours

 

You liked to watch the surfers
dip down and pop back up
I liked to see that too

 

I remember it quietly
even the cassette playing in broken streams
I remember it muted
just your singing mouth framed
by the interior of the Camry’s open window
your pointer finger and thumb on the dial
turning the squared numbers higher
lips moving to Carly Simon
You’re so vain
leaving a beachside parking spot
lot steeped to a softly bittered earl gray
And like water spilled on a dust-covered canvas

 

I found a feeling to call home

 

It clings to the streets of Ocean Beach
just after dusk when color puts the kids to bed
Something about my feet slipping into the concrete
and the storefronts’ lights leaving as we do,
It settles into the alcove of what your apartment
complex called a balcony–furnished with canvas chairs,
the smell of last night’s smoke and a slowly drying fern
I even saw it in the flood warning that lit up your
phone when you reached to skip a song

 

This morning I found it in my tea,
the settled dust at the base of my mug
and I haven’t missed him in a year
I only miss, missing him beside your muted moving lips,
a dulled joy at dusk that’s still yellow

 

I pour it down my throat

 

 

 

Biography: Flora Snowden is a student poet studying English and Creative Writing at OSU. She is the recipient of the 2023 Provost Literary Prize and an Academy of American Poets University Prize. She has interned at CALYX, the Independent Publisher of Art and Literature by Women, as an archivist. Her work has appeared in Prism, on the Oregon State University website, and the Academy of American Poets website, poets.org. Flora’s cat, Shmoko, a Taraus Sun–Scorpio Moon–Ares Rising, lives with her and is her greatest supporter.

Artist Statement: Thank you for reading; I hope that the steps or the pancake batter made you feel heard a little better. This is my favorite thing to do. Thank you for being one of the reasons I get to do it.

See more of Flora’s work in the upcoming Prism edition, Storyteller!

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About the Contributor
Selene Lawrence
Selene Lawrence, Student Correspondent
Selene Lawrence (she/they) is PRISM’s student correspondent and online editorial assistant. She is an author, poet, musician, and visual and textile artist. Selene is pursuing a major of her own design: Traditional, Folkloric, and Popular Cultural Studies for Mass Media Communications with a writing minor.

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