Blue-Bearded Poseidon lifts the sea, until only the black hulks of oil-soaked rocks stay above the raucous waves. "Salt water would pollute fresh water, river channels would become coastal estuaries, rock outcrops would become islands, lagoons would be flooded." As the oceans rise, the ancient desert gods, no longer relevant, sink into the psyche's depths, where they feast on exotic fish while waiting for the waters to subside.

Were the faint scores on stones washed up on the beach carved by currents? Or beside the path or on a shelf of land at the top of a flight of steps, there was a moss-covered rock carved with prayers, a family of life-sized stone images, a wooden temple with dragon heads human-made? What may be "natural," "unnatural," or "supernatural," ebbs on the tide, even while every breath I take inflates more questions.

The hermit said: 'Because the world is mad,
The only way through the world is to learn
The arts and double the madness.' Are you

High above the sea, a narrow road twists past huge overhanging rocks threatening to let go. Behind a locked iron fence is "one of the best extant illustrations of native Californian more than 1,000 years old." Walls flow like an underground stream on which rattlesnakes zigzag and sun wheels turn in a Chumash shaman's hundred-legged mind.

I last walked these woods forty years ago. The fragrance of its scent is still familiar. It's been a long returning, and there's no way back.