Take the dimmest purple
known to the mind of spring
and infuse it in lilacs, let it
fill the great wisteria on King Cæsar Road.
Meanwhile, let the wash of water run down
where it powered pilgrims’ grist mills
and return to lap beds of mussels
clinging to salty mud. Let the tides
and the purples continue to rise
and fall through the last two weeks of May.
Then take two yellow-shafted flickers
and send them winging diagonally
across the lawn. Take one
shaggy hedgerow and perch it
at the end of the lawn, above
a path dropping quietly to the beach.
Add an æon’s worth of horseshoe crabs
mating in the shallows. Now
let the tide ebb until the eelgrass
glows as green as summer.
Take one large house, insert tubular dormers
in the third floor, and set it
behind the lawn. Make it one
of a pair with its ghostly twin,
the house that used to adjoin it –
or the one that dwells landlocked
yet tideborne, afloat in the winter mind.
Furnish with wicker; garnish
with a screened porch; assault
lightly with Junebugs.
While you let the drafts cool
and the kitchen heat up, listen
to mockingbird radio through the
water-heater vent, or take a walk down
to the site of the Standish place
and think of Myles, killer of
three men, vicarious suitor. Compare
your courage, your folly to his as
you walk back to the house
hearing the slap and slurp of possibly
radioactive water, awaiting the foghorn’s
calm reassurance and a whitefogged
morning as still, blank, and
patient as paper, a day lucid
as sunlight, a week endless and
finite as time.
Editor’s Note: Hints of the narrator’s life are sprinkled within the imagery like unexpected grains of salt—just enough to delicately season the extended metaphor that gives this poem structure.