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Philip Levine - An Ending

Early March. 
The cold beach deserted. My kids 
home in a bare house, bundled up 
and listening to rock music 
pirated from England. My wife 
waiting for me in a bar, alone 
for an hour over her sherry, and none 
of us knows why I have to pace 
back and forth on this flat 
and birdless stretch of gleaming sand 
while the violent air shouts 
out its rags of speech. I recall 
the calm warm sea of Florida 
30 years ago, and my brother 
and I staring out in the hope 
that someone known and loved 
would return out of air and water 
and no more, a miracle a kid 
could half-believe, could see 
as something everyday and possible. 
Later I slept alone and dreamed 
of the home I never had and wakened 
in the dark. A silver light sprayed 
across the bed, and the little 
rented room ticked toward dawn. 
I did not rise. I did not go 
to the window and address 
the moon. I did not cry 
or cry out against the hour 
or the loneliness that still 
was mine, for I had grown 
into the man I am, and I 
knew better. A sudden voice 
calls out my name or a name 
I think is mine. I turn. 
The waves have darkened; the sky's 
descending all around me. I read 
once that the sea would come 
to be the color of heaven. 
They would be two seas tied 
together, and between the two 
a third, the sea of my own heart. 
I read and believed nothing. 
This little beach at the end 
of the world is anywhere, and I 
stand in a stillness that will last 
forever or until the first light 
breaks beyond these waters. Don't 
be scared, the book said, don't flee 
as wave after wave the breakers rise 
in darkness toward their ghostly crests, 
for he has set a limit to the sea 
and he is at your side. The sea 
and I breathe in and out as one. 
Maybe this is done at last 
or for now, this search for what 
is never here. Maybe all that 
ancient namesake sang is true. 
The voice I hear now is 
my own night voice, going out 
and coming back in an old chant 
that calms me, that calms 
-- for all I know -- the waves 
still lost out there.

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Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: An Ending
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