by Chris Davidson

I was in Pismo Beach with my wife
and her mother Phyllis, and her husband Greg,
and we stayed in a hotel room on the second-floor,
with two queen-sized beds,
and Greg stood by the open door of the room,
smoking, looking out at the ocean, where he saw,
under thick white clouds lumbering cross the sky
like whales, whales—first time he’d seen them
in the wild, he said. And the smoke lifted
from his cigarette, and the mist from the whales
lifted as if in reply, and all of this
I don’t remember, none of it, not the trip
to Pismo Beach, not the whales,
but Phyllis does, for she talked about it
here when she came to visit last week .
My wife barely recalls it, sort of is
the phrase she uses. All was recounted
as we walked on a pier at a different beach—
myself, my wife, and Phyllis, who pushed
her grandchildren in the stroller, the sound
of water below bringing up the hotel, the smoke,
the whales and waves, whatever else.

I Was in Pismo Beach” and other poetry by Chris Davidson appears in the Silver Birch Press Green Anthology, a collection of poetry and prose from over 70 authors in the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Africa, available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Davidson’s writing has appeared in Zyzzyva, Alaska Quarterly Review, Burnside Review, Zocalo Public Square, The Rumpus, Jacket2, and elsewhere. He teaches at Biola University and lives in Seal Beach, California, with his wife and sons.

Photo: “Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County” (Courtesy of San Luis Obispo County website)

Learn more about California’s winter whale watching season here.