A Gift of Beaches in a Bag
by Joe Cottonwood

At the bodega
I bring a tub of sour cream
along with three one-dollar bills
to Christine the cashier.
There’s a sign taped to the counter that says
_______In a Safeway bag!
_______“Memo Park” needs help
_______delivering a gift to Grandpa!!

and it’s nine weeks since Christmas,
but I recently left some bags at the bodega
for customers to re-use. I never received a gift from
my son Jesse’s family though they swear
they brought me one, so I say
“Hey. I think I might be that grandpa.”

Sure enough,
here’s a gift wrapped with cartoon characters
on which a child scrawled in giant letters
________TO GRANDPA
and then in smaller letters
________from memo park.
Jesse lives near Menlo Park.
His son Toby, age four, is just learning to write.

I open the gift wrapping.
Inside, a California State Parks Pass
good for an entire year of free entry to the parks
(and most importantly to our coastside beaches).
They have given me a year’s pass
to take walks on the beach
which they know I love
and for which they know
I’m too cheap to pay the park fee.

Thank you thank you so much
whoever opened the old sack,
whoever passed to me the gift of beaches in a bag.
Christine forgets to take my money
until I remind her. A penny in change.

Recycle your bags.
Shop the La Honda Market.
Believe in miracles.

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