Poem

Dayley Island

Frederick Seidel

Gulls spiral high above
The porch tiles and my gulf-green,
Cliff-hanging lawn, with their
Out-of-breath wail, as
Dawn catches the silver ball
Set in the dried up bird bath
To scare the gulls. My slippers
Exhale lamé. 

I was egged on by old age—
To sell that house,
Winterize this house,
Give up my practice... that
You, Pauli, gave up
At Belzec, our son at Belsen,
And one at Maidenek,
Our last at Maidenek. 

Below the cliff, the shallows
Tear apart, beating
Themselves white and black,
While the sea's smooth other edge
Towers, reddening,
Over the surfacing sun.
I rise early, always,
Earlier each day... 

Holding on.
But it's the island that's locked in
By the sea—a case
Of vaginismus, Pauli—
Except for the one bridge
To the next island. I'm free—
Dayley's first once Jewish,
Non-practicing analyst:  

Old, but she has no helper;
Station-wagon, but
She's not a tourist; poor for
An island Venus or matron.
The man who sells me fish
Says he fought my Nazis,
The captured ones talked
Just like me—I'm somebody. 

Last week—March-cold
In the middle of August,
Snow-blue, high, thin skies—
I drove the hour to Brunswick
To drop my suits at 
Maine's Only Chinese Laundry,
A down-easter's,
With a Negro presser. 

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