It started with heartache. I made the climb with one good friend who knew me to be sad. It was July; Cleveland Sage had flowered. We walked up and up because we thought that we could make it. We were slow: me, my friend, and my tired dog. We did this often, on weekends and after work. We walked through the dirt and past-prime blossoms, the brown of what to say. It didn’t seem anything was ahead. Months passed and grew green. We’d meet off Laguna Canyon Road — more of us each time — and walk upward. At the summit, we reached a park called the Top of the World. It seemed a joke to me in those first days. But, by April, there was tall mustard. By May, there were quail ahead with coveys. By spring, I had forgotten and we laughed. Violet and white everywhere, I came to this place now with more and more friends. By May, there were nine of us walking together. We watched the ocean below. Look at the top of the world, I told them. Look at what’s possible.
Colette Labouff Atkinson is a published poet and acting director of the International Center for Writing and Translation in the School of Humanities at UC Irvine.
*Photo by Colette Labouff Atkinson.