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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
I sniff after the sparrow and the spaniel, flitting around,
barking, digging up the dirt: how could I not be
at one with them? But I'm a spendthrift too, rummaging about

old sport coats, selecting a style, a clash of styles—
in a private moment trying to decide who I am today by trying on
something discarded,
poem
When I came back, he was gone.
My mother was in the bathroom
crying, my sister in her crib
restless but asleep. The sun
was shining in the bay window,
the grass had not been cut.
No one mentioned the other woman,
nights he spent in that stranger's house.

I sat at my desk and wrote him a note.
When my mother saw
2
poem
My first roses brought me to my senses.
All my furies, I launched them like paper boats 
in the algaed pond behind my house. 

First they were pale, then peach and blood red.
You could be merciless trimming them back.
You could be merciless and I needed that.

Emerald green with crimson tips,
these were no