A Girl Explains America

Ruth Joffre

Everyone she knows lives on a cliff, in a shack, not five minutes from unforgiving shores. Most days, no one bothers to cinch their hoods and walk down that rocky beach to be buffeted by winds traveling more than sixty miles per hour. Even the bald eagle that lives in her backyard has decided not to get out of bed today until he has to. She can see him from the back window: a pale white knife of a head slicing through the endless brown expanse of barren trees and muddy cliffs. Hard yellow beak that reminds her of an overdone egg yolk. She would like nothing more than to pet its chocolate brown feathers, but that would require going outside, where the tourists in silver hybrids could stare at her with their long faces. Their shock says, Do people still live like this? In America? Where streets turn to soup and bald eagles look miserable, she watches them maneuver through the village, their rental car tracing the gravel spit down to the water, where sea lions bark into the wind, “Go home! You don’t belong here!” Fools, she thinks, as the wind rips their hoods off their heads and whips their hair around like eels or seaweed. If they’re not careful, something out here will mistake them for food. Perhaps the eagle already has.


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