Memoir of a Marriage, Part III – Disappointed Love

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Sweet_Nothings_by_Godward

When I first fell in love, it was a hot thing—urgent, possessive, almost feverish at times. I truly saw love as being two souls in one body. We were opposites that complemented each other. He was my missing half, and I his.

But I wasn’t content with that. In some fervent way I wanted to be him, become him, live inside him, feel my heart beating in his body and his in mine. I wanted to meld with him.

Not surprisingly, I discovered this just wasn’t happening. There were times when our love felt like that, when we seemed so close, but then it would slacken and drift away. And when that happened, he seemed almost like a stranger to me, someone I barely knew, and did not understand at all.

That’s when I wrote the following poem.

 Love’s Duplicity

I look at you and see
Incredibly
A face at once slighted by closeness, yet
Dimmed by the distance I hold you;
A face overlooked and over known, yet
Laced by fingers, fearful to possess you.
And you look from eyes
Half-halting
Wary that you know me.

I look at you and see
Incredibly,
How the lines forming you
Flow not into my own
But lie separately, falling
On planes apart.
Reasoning makes no clearer,
No nearer
That we lie two, not one.

I look at you and see
Incredibly,
How the brown hollow of your eyes
Will ever haunt mine, and
I cry for me, for all whose heart’s desire
Is held ever at half embrace:
Half wanting, half waiting,
Half knowing
What we’ll never know.

I look at you and see
Incredibly,
How these feelings we are one
Or we should be,
How we are strangers
Never touching,
Lie at odds in me.
Is it odd I reap of love
the bittersweet?

Eventually I realized we weren’t soul mates and probably never would be. And while I still yearned for us to become closer, he was content with the way things were.

While I wanted to know everything about him, there were parts of me—important parts—that he simply had no interest in. Like my passion for the arts, literature, philosophy, religion, writing. He knew I wanted to be a writer—that I wrote poetry and short stories and kept a journal—and he liked that about me. But he had no interest in what I was writing, never asked to read anything. Never seemed interested when I offered to share what I wrote. He wasn’t curious at all.

Finally, I let go trying to become closer, and we drifted away from each other. Our marriage became almost sterile, perfunctory. We shared a house, children, a bed. That was all. I realized that I no longer loved him. At times I barely liked him.

A veil of sadness descended over me, a yearning for something I feared I would never have. I felt my soul mate was still out there somewhere, waiting for me. But I realized I may never find him.

The following poem expresses that feeling of waiting for something that may never happen. It was originally published in a college journal.

Hot Hills in Summer Heat

I watch them every summer, the hot hills

Crouched like a lion beside the road,

Tawny skin pulled taut across

Long, lean ribs.

I would take my hand and trace

Round ripples of male muscle,

Feel the hot rise and cool dip

of his body.

I see the arrogance—rocky head held

High against a blazing sky, the patient

Power unmindful of the heat

that holds me.

One day he will rise, stretch his sensuous

Body against the sky with one, low moan.

On silent paws he will pursue me.

And so I wait.

by Deborah J. Brasket

We’d been married ten years by then, but I felt I could no longer live like this. It was time for me to leave.

(To be continued) In celebration of April as National Poetry Month and our 50th wedding anniversary (yes, I was a child bride), I’ll be reposting a series I published here years ago, an anatomy of love as it evolves over time, exploring married love in all of its manifestations:  Innocent love, erotic love, disappointed love, love lost, love renewed, and love that lasts.

Memoir of a Marriage, Part II – Erotic Love

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photo here

In celebration of April as National Poetry Month and our 50th wedding anniversary (yes, I was a child bride), I’ll be reposting a series I published here years ago, an anatomy of love as it evolves over time, exploring married love in all of its manifestations:  Innocent love, erotic love, disappointed love, love lost, love renewed, and love that lasts.

Part II – The Geometry and Geography of Love

I wrote these poems while still quite young, and very much in love, and loving the way our bodies “meet and mingle” when making love.  I loved the “lean lines” and “anxious angles,” the patterns we made spread across the bed.

I was fascinated by how the masculine and feminine forms complemented each other. It inspired the following drawing, something I was playing around with at the time, enjoying the lean look of pen on paper.

A Pleasing Design

Lovers2 (5)

I find satisfaction in form,
In bare geometric patterns,
In line upon line bisecting line,
In spacious planes spread out and open.

I like this silky stretch of skin,
Simple curves and supple cones,
I like the firm feel of your flesh,
Swollen contours, anxious angles.

Mostly I like the intricate pattern
We create, stripped bare and essential
The piling planes and lacing lines,
The way we meet and mingle,

When one fine ray of you cuts
Clean through me, and within that
intersecting interlude we come
To a common and satisfying point.

By Deborah J. Brasket

arial green hills johnwileyBG6

Several love poems I wrote at the time involves the “topography” or “geography” of love, exploring each other’s bodies as if exploring an intimate landscape, with all its hills and streams, forests and caves, and vast flowing deserts.

Even then, so long ago, I was fascinated by how the human and natural worlds interconnect, and seem to complement each other.

In Exploration

I like the lay of your land.

You stretch before me
in large and rugged proportions.

The sheer volume of your mass
with its vast and varied landscape
is an irresistible invitation
to explore you.

You are shaped of firm and fertile earth
pressed lovingly round solid granite.

I lay my face close to smell
the sweet and salty scent of you
And there I hear
low, deep rumblings
of subterranean waters.

I trace you with my finger to find
Sudden softness, deep impenetrable forests,
and parts of you so finely chiseled
I must stop and marvel.

When I touch you my hand spans continents,
for there’s no lusher garden,
no sweeter field,
no depth more resounding,
nor peak more pure
than what I find in touching you.

I rise and hover over you like a cloud
then slowly, gently, cover you with my body.
I feel the touch of skin on skin,
your warmth rising through me
and press so near I hear
Your heartbeat in my body.

I am spilling with the rich fill of you,
Knowing all my sweet and wild secrets lie
Ever open to the finger of exploration.

Then I find within the far-off orb of your eye
a space so vast and distant,
and long to explore
the intangible reaches of your mind.

By Deborah J. Brasket

Memoir of a Marriage in Poetry, Part I – Innocent Love

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Lovers

In celebration of April as National Poetry Month and our 50th wedding anniversary (yes, I was a child bride), I’ll be reposting a series I published here years ago, an anatomy of love as it evolves over time, exploring married love in all of its manifestations:  Innocent love, erotic love, disappointed love, love lost, love renewed, and love that lasts.

Part I, Some Silly Little Love Poems, Loosed at Last

He was a young handsome marine, fresh from his tour of duty in Vietnam. I was senior in high school, a flower-child who wrote poetry and read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. We were the opposites that attract. I dropped out of school to marry him because he had to move away for work and I couldn’t live without him. But as an Ironworker building bridges and topping off sky-scrapers, his work kept taking him away from me. And as a freshman in college with a baby on the way, I could not follow, so we were constantly being parted. I wrote these poems to mourn his absence and celebrate love’s sweetness. The last one shows too the fear I felt of losing him forever, for his work on the high iron was so dangerous. These poems lay in a drawer for decades till published here.

Now, While

Now
While the love-light of your eyes
Shines upon my face,
And your bare-bodied shadow
Presses close to mine,

Now
With the moonlight and trees
Spreading patterns across our bed,
And the corners of the room
lie dark and drowsy,

Now
Let us kiss and love.

Then
While our bodies still hungrily cling
Let us sleep,

Closely breathing,
Closely dreaming,
Close in love.

Gone

You’re gone!
And though I know
You’ll be back Monday
The word gets caught between
The empty of my arms

Just Asking

We loved
We came to be like
Mirrors, reflecting like

I saw myself
An image in your eye.

When you’re gone
I find myself
And empty likeness

I question, are you gone
Or am I?

Would That Love

Would that love move me once
That it move me far enough
Would that love move me now
In all I do.

For the way is far too strong
That would push against the throng,
Cut me loose to lose myself
In loving you.

Since the day will surely show
When I’ll have to let you go
What a waste to love you then
With clutching arms.

So let me meet your every wish
Make myself a selfless gift
That I fill to overflowing
Loving you.

And when we part, if part we must,
I’ll unclasp in loving trust,
For Love spent us to the full
In every way.

the rapture is already right in front of you

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Landscape #107 by Robert Roth

I’m still trying to understand why this poem moves me so much, and thought maybe you can help.

And What Good Will Your Vanity Be When The Rapture Comes

says the man with a cart of empty bottles at the corner of church
and lincoln while I stare into my phone and I say
I know oh I know while trying to find the specific
filter that will make the sun’s near-flawless descent look

the way I might describe it in a poem and the man
says the moment is already right in front of you and I
say I know but everyone I love is not here and I mean
here like on this street corner with me while I turn

the sky a darker shade of red on my phone and I mean
here like everyone I love who I can still touch and not
pass my fingers through like the wind in a dream
but I look up at the man and he is a kaleidoscope

of shadows I mean his shadows have shadows
and they are small and trailing behind him and I know
then that everyone he loves is also not here and the man doesn’t ask
but I still say hey man I’ve got nothing I’ve got nothing even though I have plenty

to go home to and the sun is still hot even in its
endless flirt with submission and the man’s palm has a small
river inside I mean he has taken my hand now and here we are
tethered and unmoving and the man says what color are you making

the sky and I say what I might say in a poem I say all surrender
ends in blood and he says what color are you making the sky and
I say something bright enough to make people wish they were here
and he squints towards the dancing shrapnel of dying

light along a rooftop and he says I love things only as they are
and I’m sure I did once too but I can’t prove it to anyone these days
and he says the end isn’t always about what dies and I know I know
or I knew once and now I write about beautiful things

like I will never touch a beautiful thing again and the man
looks me in the eyes and he points to the blue-orange vault
over heaven’s gates and he says the face of everyone you miss
is up there and I know I know I can’t see them but I know

and he turns my face to the horizon and he says
we don’t have much time left and I get that he means the time
before the sun is finally through with its daily work or I
think I get that but I still can’t stop trembling and I close

my eyes and I am sobbing on the corner of church and
lincoln and when I open my eyes the sun is plucking everyone
who has chosen to love me from the clouds and carrying them
into the light-drunk horizon and I am seeing this and I know

I am seeing this the girl who kissed me as a boy in the dairy aisle
of meijer while our parents shopped and the older boy on the
basketball team who taught me how to make a good fist and swing
it into the jaw of a bully and the friends who crawled to my porch

in the summer of any year I have been alive they were all there
I saw their faces and it was like I was given the eyes of a newborn
again and once you know what it is to be lonely it is hard to
unsee that which serves as a reminder that you were not always

empty and I am gasping into the now-dark air and I pull my shirt
up to wipe whatever tears are left and I see the man walking in the
other direction and I chase him down and tap his arm and I say did
you see it did you see it like I did and he turns and leans into the

glow of a streetlamp and he is anchored by a single shadow now
and he sneers and he says have we met and he scoffs and pushes
his cart off into the night and I can hear the glass rattling even
as I watch him become small and vanish and I look down at my

phone and the sky on the screen is still blood red.

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, Brooklyn Magazine, November 14, 2016.

It starts out as just an ordinary encounter on a street corner and kaleidoscopes into something quite different. The narrator is preoccupied with his phone, with enhancing an image of a sunset to show off to others. When approached by a homeless man preoccupied with the coming rapture, he fakes empathy, saying “I know I know”, but not really knowing, not really caring. He continues to humor the man by saying, in essence, yes, I know, the rapture is coming, but since all my people aren’t here, I’m not really ready for it right now.

And it’s at this point the poem shifts from the real to the surreal, the homeless guy before him kaleidoscopes into something else, and takes hold of the narrator’s hand. Now they are “tethered and unmoving.”

From here until the end is a dreamlike episode, where poignant moments and phrases seem to flow, one after the other, like that river flowing from the man’s palm: the sun’s “endless flirt with submission,” “I love things only as they are,” “the end isn’t always about what dies,” “now I write about beautiful things like I will never touch a beautiful thing again,” and “the face of everyone you miss is up there.”

By now the narrator is trembling and sobbing. He keeps saying “I know, I know, or I knew once,” as if he’s forgotten the things he should know. And then comes this vision: “when I open my eyes the sun is plucking everyone
who has chosen to love me from the clouds and carrying them into the light-drunk horizon and I am seeing this and I know”. He sees all these faces and precious moments from his past and says: ” it was like I was given the eyes of a newborn again.” Then he adds “once you know what it is to be lonely it is hard to unsee that which serves as a reminder that you were not always empty.”

After this vision and revelation, the scene devolves back into an ordinary street scene. The homeless man, when asked, apparently has not seen what he saw. He scornfully pushes the narrator away, and continues his journey into the night with his cart full of empty bottles.

I’m still struggling to put into words what moves me, but it’s in the images I’ve highlighted above, and the refrain “I know I know or I knew once.” It’s in that feeling that things aren’t really as they seem to be, they are so much more; and also in the fact that all we really want or need is already right here before us, if only we had eyes to see.

It’s in that coalescing of the real and surreal, the now and forever, the ordinary and extraordinary, and how they morph back and forth, dreamlike and elusive. It’s in that eternal yearning for “something more,” and, at the same time, the need to surrender to what is. To let that “dancing shrapnel” of light break us apart so we are open to this moment, right here, before us.

There’s so much more to say about this poem, and I’d be really interested in knowing what you think.

The constant reference to a poem is interesting too, making this a kind of meta-poem. The narrator himself is a poet it seems. And I wonder, does the act of writing (my writing this post, his writing that poem) does it take us out of the moment or deeper into it? And when I say “moment” do I mean what is happening right now in this room and outside my window as I write, or what is going on in my head and heart as I write quite unaware of my surroundings? Are they the same moment? Or are each part of a kaleidoscopic now, moments within moments?

The word “rapture” is mentioned only once, but referred to again and again, and perhaps the title of this post, “the rapture is already right in front of us,” comes closest to capturing what I take away from reading this poem. The rapture not referring to the Biblical sense of people being plucked off the streets into heaven, but to the ecstatic joy that lies just out of sight within the present moment, if only we have eyes to see.

Many thanks to The Vale of Soul-Making for introducing me to this poem and poet. And many thanks for the painting by Robert Roth that captures without words what I really wanted to say here.


Hilma af Klint: A Spiritual Perspective

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The Ten Largest, No. 7 “Adult” Hilma af Klint (1907)

The abstract artwork of Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) predated that of Kandinsky, Klee, and Mondrian, and so some say that she rather than a “he” was the inventor of abstract art. She knew herself that she was painting well before her time and asked that her work not be exhibited until 20 years past her death. However, that stretch of restraint lasted much longer. Only recently is her work being given the kind of renown and interest she has long deserved.

Like so many artists, her artwork was inspired by a spiritual perspective, in her case a keen interest in Buddhism and Theosophy, and the Occult. What I love about her paintings are the rich colors and elegant organic shapes, the playful designs and sense of connectivity. Her art reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe’s works in some ways, the boldly feminine and evocative.

More about her life and work can be found in the links below.

The Ten Largest, “Childhood” Hilma af Klint (1907)
“The Ten Largest, No. 4, Youth” (1907).
The Ten Largest, No. 4 “Youth” Hilma af Klint, (1907)
The Ten Largest, Number 6, Ten, “Adulthood”, by Hilma af Klint
Hilma af Klint “Evolution, №15, Group IV, The Seven-pointed Stars”, 1908
In 1915, Hilma af Klint made three "Altarpiece" paintings for a temple to spiritual enlightenment that was never built.
One of several “Altarpiece” paintings meant to be shown in a temple that was never built. Hilma af Klint (1915)
“The Ten Largest” (1907) at the Museum of Modern Art Stockholm, 2013 Photograph: Åsa Lundén

For more on af Klint: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-04-16/beyond-visible-hilma-af-klint ; https://medium.com/nightingale/hilma-af-klint-visualizing-the-spirit-world-bb54781d9beb ; https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/11/arts/design/hilma-af-klint-review-guggenheim.htm l; https://www.hilmaafklint.se/om-hilma-af-klint/

Like Flowers Falling Everywhere: A Poem

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5e04e4e3c075afd945a191175e37966f.jpg

Everywhere I look I see you,

I see us. This fragile hand,

this blue pen, this yellow pad.

These fingers gently folded,

Embracing the eagerness of

 your movements across the page.

This tender paper accepting

All we write. These words that

rise up and lay down, so simple.

You are what I feel. This beating heart,

this circling breath, this wide sphere of

silence that enfolds us. Your soft sigh.

The day waits. It pours out of us whole

and clear, unending. How kind you are.

Kindness like flowers falling everywhere.

By Deborah J. Brasket, “Morning Prayer”

Painting by Odilon Redon

Moving From Hope and Faith to Trust

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I’ve discovered for myself that hope and faith are feeble things compared with trust. Hope is a kind of yearning for something that seems beyond our immediate grasp, something that may or may not happen. It carries within itself a sense of uncertainty. Hoping for the best, hoping for a miracle, hoping they will be safe, hoping he will not die.

Within the hopeful thought is the possibility that what one hopes for may not happen. Hope is a telltale sign that someone or something is in peril, that danger awaits. Hope itself seems precarious. With any little wind, setback, relapse, or adverse circumstance, it can be toppled and turned into despair.

But trust is more steady, purposeful, positive. Grounded. It cannot be easily reversed even when obstacles or adverse circumstances assert themselves. It’s like the “Little Engine That Could,” the storybook train that steadily chugs along, even when it’s uphill the whole time. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Not hoping it can, but trusting in it’s own strength, power, determination, and ability.

We don’t “trust he won’t die.” We trust he will live. And we base that trust on something we feel firm about, something grounded within our very being. Our belief in him, that he has the courage, the love, the wisdom, the goodness to survive his addiction. To surmount whatever obstacles may stand in his way, whatever chains may attempt to hold him down.

Trust is even more keen-edged than faith, I believe. Faith, like hope, may waver. Trust never does. Trust allows us to leave worry and fear behind. It just doesn’t figure in with the mind-set of trust. You can’t trust and worry at the same time, like you can with hope, or even faith. For the fear there, resides is in the very Source we pin our faith on. The knowledge that God’s will may not be our own. And within that gap lies doubt, uncertainty, fear. Or resignation as we give up our will for His greater wisdom.

But trust, the kind I’m talking about now, is an inner conviction, not reliant on something or someone apart from ourselves or the things we trust in. When we trust the dam won’t break, it’s because we know something about the dam, know how well it was made, how strong it is, it’s ability to withstand whatever comes down that river. To merely hope it will hold? To have faith it will hold? Such mindsets seems flimsy in comparison with trust.

I understand that there are some things you can’t trust in, but only hope for. You can’t trust the cancer won’t spread. You can’t trust cancer. But trusting in the body’s ability to generate what’s needed to fight it off? Trust in the chosen therapeutic to do what it was created to do? Even trust in prayer. These trusting mindsets are better than hope or faith, for they leave no room for fear. And fear itself is a cancer.

So much of what we know about how the world works, is how the mind affects everything, physically as well as emotionally. More and more evidence gives credence to the notion that mind, consciousness, not matter, is the bedrock of all that exists. How we think affects everything around us. So we must chose our mindsets carefully. And hope and faith pale in comparison with trust. Even when it comes to God. Or my son.

Franz Wright: Like Touching a Bird’s Exposed Heart

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Reading this poem on Vale of Soul-Making struck me to the core, it is so exquisite.

That mingling of the erotic with child-like wonder.

That last line, so unexpected. So perfect.

Untitled

This was the first time I knelt
and with my lips, frightened, kissed
the lit inwardly pink petaled lips.

It was like touching a bird’s exposed heart
with your tongue.

Summer dawn flowing into the room parting the
curtains—the lamps dimming—breeze
rendered visible. Lightning,
and then soft applause
from the leaves . . .

Almost children, we lay asleep in love listening to the
rain.

We didn’t ask to be born.
— Franz Wright, “Untitled,” Earlier Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007)

Are we not all like a bird’s beating heart waiting to be touched deeply?

We did not ask to be born. Yet here we are, out of nowhere, dropped into this world of wonder. How can we account for that? All we can do, given this gift of grace, is to keep parting all the tender petals before us till the core of who we are is revealed.

Neruda: Drunk With the Great Starry Void

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One of my favorite poets, again, swept me off my feet, expressing the inexpressible with perfect eloquence.

Poetry

And it was at that age … poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was, without a face,
and it touched me.

I didn’t know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind.
And something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first, faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing;
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars.


My heart broke loose on the wind. Pablo Neruda,
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, trans. W.S. Merwin (Penguin Classics, 2004)

Illustration by Dorothy Lathrop 1891 – 1980 Stars, 1930, ink on illustration board. Illustration for Sarah Teasdale, Stars Tonight, New York: Macmillan Company, 1930.

A Magical Day at San Simeon Bay

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Dale and I spent a magical day recently at San Simeon Bay along Highway 1, just below Hearst Castle on the California central coast. Quite unexpectedly, we found two sailboats rolling gently in the bay and three elephant seals lulling in the sun. Something we’ve never seen here before. Although elephant seals are found abundantly in this area, it’s unusual to find them on busy beaches. Signs warned us to beware, as these wild creatures can bite should they be disturbed.

One of the boats looked like La Gitana, the 46-foot sailboat that was our home for six years when we sailed around the world. Nostalgia for that magic time hit heavy. I almost felt like I could see our son at the bow with his fishing line thrown into the bay, our daughter riding the boom as she liked to do, and Dale and I sitting on the aft deck with two big green buckets and a wooden plunger, doing laundry.

Further up the beach was a quaint hut made of driftwood that some surfer had built. Like ones we often saw on remote beaches built by yachties when we were sailing.

Along the way as we hiked up the bluff and out to the point, we stopped to visit the largest eucalyptus trees we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, with their rainbow bark, elephantine trunks and long octopus arms. Magical!

When we reached the point, we could look back at the bay and get a faraway glimpse of Hearst Castle high in the hills, another magical place. On the other side were beautiful views of the coastline.

The last time we came here we headed back after reaching the point, but this time we turned north to a path lined by pine and eucalyptus trees that parallels the coast.

The path grew narrower and darker and spookier as we walked, the trees thicker and more gnarled, blocking out the sun. Sharp branches reached out to grab and tree roots rose up to trip. On one side we could hear the hidden ocean waves whispering warnings to us, while all around the creepy creaks and groans of trees sent cold shivers down our spines. It seemed to go on forever. We could almost imagine ourselves as Hansel and Gretel lost in the stark, dark woods just before reaching the witches gingerbread house. Our path eventually opened up to a sun-filled view of the coastline stretching out as far as we could see, with the very faint outline of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in the far misty distance.

On the hike back to the beach we came across a strange trail of dark, oily splats along the path, as if dropped from some huge creature flying by. Dragon shit, we surmised, looking up as if to see the dark shadow of reptile wings wheeling by. A fair and fitting end to our magical day at San Simeon.