A Few Surprising Turns
A few surprising turns follow us everywhere.
I was shopping for something to replace
what I once felt. Weren’t there buildings there
where we once lived, fully furnished
and looking out on the sea? Didn’t we distill
from neighbors the necessary codes
and gestures? At the core we were all traipse
and meander, governed by fill in the blank.
But it was here, the ramshackle Cape Cod
with rattling shutters eaten away
then revived, mended and painted over.
It takes just a scent of sea spray
to bring back the once was: skimpy,
the bikini, the beach, the conversation,
the veil of summer, skimpy the engine
that chugs toward love, skimpy the cover
of the universe. Thanks to this fragrance
we can sit under our favorite cedar,
or picture the old dreaded barber shop.
Now I want my hair touched, and my cheek.
I want the salt rubbed out with a handkerchief.
Copyright © 2016 by Ira Sadoff. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.
“I remember driving past my parents’ first house and recalling how humble it was—they were restless and their pleasure in the place didn’t last long—but I discovered, as I wrote the poem, I didn’t feel nostalgic about the house itself, now so changed. Rather the scent of the sea served as a trigger, flooding me with fleeting sense impressions. It turns out I wasn’t longing for the past but for a state of mind, the capacity to feel the full force of being alive. I hope the poem’s a tribute to the frailty and vitality of imagination and its power to transform us.”