Fear of Heights
A widow’s walk will go to your head—like the sight of a former
boyfriend pulling up in a two-toned Alfa, sunglasses
and a baseball cap, he patiently waits while you study his face.
Recent history you can’t know but might intuit—beaten up
some by previous inhabitants. Still you remember.
Twenty years or more, the patina’s all glint and shiver.
It’s the wind from the sea makes you light-headed,
inclined to break like a floe far to the north,
present self sheared loose from your youth.
What you have in mind is nothing,
walking around the porch to the back door,
the half-filled lemonade pitcher spilling phlox.
The latch unhitches to the drop of a thumb
and summer rushes out with a long-held breath.
How easily sheets fly off the wicker—chairs,
tables, dining set, a summer writing desk.
Like the arrival of guests from all doors at once,
the empty room is busy again breathing in the sea.
You try one door, then another, quick as the mother of pearl
spill of buttons, you’re there in the stairwell looking up
into impossibly bright lines of light edging the hatch.
With a shoulder and palm it’ll heave loose—
already the salt air, the unguessed dimensions swaying
in wind. The real weight of the door and the sheer
white of the height, like sun flashing dizzily over the waves,
the bright likes of which once caused a boy to fall to the sea.