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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 23, 2016.
About this Poem 

“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.”
—Ira Sadoff

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.

Copyright © 2016 by Ira Sadoff. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ira Sadoff

Ira Sadoff

Ira Sadoff was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 7, 1945,

by this poet

poem
Sometimes I'm so lachrymose I forget I was there
with my darling—I call her my darling to make her
more anonymous, so she can't take up all the space
in my brain. But please, can I continue, or must I

look away from such openness, those spools of light
bringing red and fine threads of silver to her
2
poem

Ok, I no longer want them,
the many selves I had to manage

that once exhausted friends. I believed

in angels then, thought I might be
an angel—that was me, flying off

on a tangent, just so we could land
on one of my many balconies

so we could look down on everyone.

2
poem

It is a Sunday afternoon on the Grand Canal. We are watching the sailboats trying to sail along without wind. Small rowboats are making their incisions on the water, only to have the wounds seal up again soon after they pass. In the background, smoke from the factories and smoke from the steamboats merges into tiny