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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.

Poem by Philip Levine
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