“California,” a Poem by David Semanki

From the Collection “Ghost Camera”

April 4, 2024  By David Semanki


west—all the way.

our move still feels like yesterday,
although it has been ages
since we left the painted colonial house
and the massachusetts seaside town.

you, deep asleep in the bed next to me.
a compact dachshund snores
on the wool north star blanket at our feet.
a gentle whimper in her sleep—dreaming of what,
one of our evening walks
along the pacific at dillon beach?

we arrived to california in a drought year.
parched, like the local reservoirs, dairy cattle
dotted coastal hills eager for morning dew.
deer, with their fawns, fed
on the village’s remaining ice plants.

marine layer obscures the long arm of point reyes.
the air weighty with eucalyptus,
to you a scent familiar
as the steamship-weathered pages
of your family album. familiar as the german community
you were born to in south america.

am i—are you—are we, together
falling into
our own biography?

propping open
the bedroom door, due to uneven beach house floors,
an antique bronze swan head. bought back east
at auction. its former life,
that of a water spigot for a grand garden.

nameless, flightless, yet yielding
to travel and homecoming
like driftwood.
this relic of some long-lost family, now anchor.


Ghost Camera - Semanki, David

From Ghost Camera by David Semanki, published by Turning Point. Copyright © 2024 by David Semanki.

David Semanki
David Semanki
David Semanki holds an MFA from Columbia University. While an editor, he conceived of, wrote the commentary for, and shepherded into publication Sylvia Plath’s Ariel: The Restored Edition. Semanki’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New Yorker, The Yale Review, The American Poetry Review, The New York Times Book Review, and The Paris Review. He is the literary executor for the estate of poets Linda Gregg and Jack Gilbert. After years living in California, he has returned to rural New England. Ghost Camera is his debut collection.

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