for Peter Klappert
There is comfort in the familiar sea,
he thought and sat and watched the waves come in
as they had always done, rolling
with a self-important swagger until
they fell halfway up the beach and were forced
to crawl on hands and knees to shore.
But it was too familiar, just like home.
The sea rattled with the same ghostly bones
that clattered up in the attic,
the gulls keened with the same corrosive cry
that his mother stifled in the laundry,
and the beach smelled with the same sweet
rot he'd sniff in the kitchen when his lunch,
a thin sandwich slathered with mayonnaise,
was left all day on the sideboard.
Only the old words in the old order
brought him comfort, and he rediscovered
a joy he had long forgotten:
the endless pleasure of reading endlessly.
He turned the pages over like waves
he'd dream of riding as a boy.
There were no new words for delight in his
vocabulary, and he was too old
to learn a different tongue. He'd stay
with past patterns, fixed, unalterable,
spells that the wizard casts upon himself
when he fails to make new magic.