At dawn, they snap the curtains back,
disclose your uneluded fate;
the view, the patient sound.
They turn your chair, as if you might
neglect to contemplate a world
of failed light, purity.

If there occurred, since yesterday,
in the domain of the grey-winged,
a surge of lurid life,
it has been quelled, order restored,
a peace of ash and quicksilver
that will outlive winter.

Yes, yes, you know your nephew comes,
he takes the train from Elsinore.
Why, what would hinder him,
a guiltless youth of quite fourteen,
his lungs a pair of samovars,
from fidgeting through tea

as you try to acquit yourself
of the last tinctures of the day,
Mama asks how you do.
As he brings out the photographs—
the gardens, nectarines and lace—
the mute shore will hold you.

What if you approached, as you dreamed,
the jetty, swagged with bird-soiled ice,
the ancient pleasure boat,
the deaf gulls shrieking your escape,
the letters from home clutched by wind,
disturbed, at last, the sea?

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