Monday, December 28, 2009

There You Were

There you were,
solitary, 7:00 A.M.
surveying your own unpeopled beach
and the sea, that day,
was as calm as an unplayed piano,
and the gulls popped in and out,
softly, softly and your eyes grew soft
with their unused power
and your defenses swept out into
the baby tongues of the tide,
that day, Barbara,
when an entire house broke out of the sea
and collapsed at your feet.
And you strode toward it
to see if it had a problem,
or if the sea-carpenter in you
could set it upright.

This was pure instinct
and though as you peeked in the ghosty windows,
and felt the nails growing the wrong way out
you had only a small fear
and the fear was not for yourself
but for her, lest she drift outward,
into the sea at war with itself.
You laughed at her doors,
and opened them with care,
lest a convulsion crush the structure.

The house waited on your private beach
each day,
when you had the time to return to her.
And you so often had the time,
even when fury blew out her chimney,
even when love lifted the shingles
even when loss after loss
cracked her cage
and the sea boiled at the edge of the structure.
Yet you battled for that house
with a small delight in your power
over the teeth that had bitten it in two.

The house of my body has spoken
often as you rebuilt me like blocks,
and promise to come visit
when I'm finally adjusted on safe land,
and am livable, joist to joist
with storm windows and screens,
mattresses, fixtures,
sand dollars, cups –
inhabitable and all that.
But not for sale!
Perhaps when I'm an antique,
as a gift,
cranky but firm,
I'll take in boarders
who admire my ocean view.

Anne Sexton