No matter how long I live here
I’ll never be a local, always
someone from over the hill.
Never named queen
of the Chamarita, never read currents
as easily as lines of my palm.
I settle into my secret cove, awaiting
the return of the elephant seals
who winter here. Each day the tide
steals my boot prints from the sand.
Each day I plant them new. The limit
per catch of giant owl limpet,
my neighbor says, is thirty-two.
Sautée up nice. Named
for an attachment scar
that looks like an owl
on the inside of the shell.
You can see it only if you shuck it.
The owl limpet is a farmer.
It tends its plot of microalgae
on wave-wracked rocks
of the upper littoral,
bulldozing barnacles
and mussels, then retreating
to its home scar—the precise hole
it’s carved for itself in the rock.
If you pried me away from this place,
turned me over and gutted me
you’d find a picture in the shape of
a house, a wave the color of pearl.
If you held me to your ear
you’d hear the click of the perfect
latch of key to hole.

Veronica Kornberg is a poet based in the town of Pescadero, on the Central Coast of California. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Catamaran Literary Reader, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, New Millennium Writings, and Negative Capability. She is currently at work on her first book of poems.