Californian – Desiree Ducharme

Tanning season begins in late January. The first days of midterm break are dedicated to studying forecasts. Risks are analyzed. Gas money is produced. Stories are straightened. Lies are told. The locals have not yet shed their winter suits. The sand is warm at mid-day. We bury our feet and pull it into us. 

Our bodies are not yet. Limbs that were have continued beyond hems. Knees peak through white cotton shutters framed by denim fringe. Middles are filled with Diet Pepsi and Snickers. Pale and soft, we expose our most vulnerable pieces to each other. Side-by-side with our eyes closed hoping, hating, accepting, being. Someone passes around chemicals for our outsides. Coconut, salt, and surf wax. Someone passes. Chemicals race through our insides.

Mama Cass and I dream little dreams. Starlight penetrates our layers. Dermis, epidermis, subcutaneous. I can feel it in my bones. You cannot hide from starlight. It remembers the pieces of us that use to be, that could be. It embraces all, new and ancient. My heartbeat slows to the rhythm of the tide. The ocean sings to me. It invites. It lures. The siren song of the Pacific striking a chord along the 115th perpendicular in the key of the 32nd parallel.

Seagulls circle the abandoned remains of dormant fire pits. The wind hums against the cliffs. Starlight wains. Salt and sand polish our skins. Shuttered lifeguard stations absolve the State of our reckless behavior. We were out of season. Out of place. Out of time. It’s dangerous, this place, this state, this being. This playground for the soul with its cacophony of existence. Swim at your own risk.



Desiree Ducharme spends her days imagining pleasant and unpleasant nonsense then writing it down. During her semi-voluntary, health-adjacent, potentially-permanent sabbatical from her dream job as a Used Book Buying Dragon at Powell’s City of Books, has freed up a lot of her time. She washed her dreams and became a writer. You can find more of her work at her website.

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