The Magic Kingdom

It’s a beautiful January Sunday morning,
the first morning of the new year,
and my old dogs limp behind me up the beach
as my sons scour the ocher sand like archivists
seeking the days quota of mystery.
To them it’s all a magical kingdom,
their minds tiny oceans of good and evil strategies,
the hard traffic of dreams
enclosed by a flourishing expectation.

We came here for the ripening light,
the silence of the enormous sky; to exult
in the shy jewels of sea glass
polished by the tides of the wind,
in the forlorn shrieks and chortling cries of gulls
rising and falling between their world and ours.
To be where it was lush,
lonely and secret enough.

At the edge of things,
in the shimmering spray
and flawless sparkle of seashells,
under the lonely momentum of clouds
lugging their mysterious cargoes all the way
to the horizon and back,
each a wish, a gift
that must be returned.

I never thought I’d have so much to give up;
that the view from this side of my life
would be so precious. Bless
these filaments of sea grass,
this chorus of piping plovers
and bickering wrens, each mile
these arthritic animals tag behind,
sniffing tire ruts, frothy craters of rotting driftwood,
lacy seaweed and scuttling crabs,
after something deliciously foul . . .

Bless the plenitude of the suffering mind . . .
its endless parade of disgrace
and spider’s web of fear, the hunger
of the soul that expects to be despised
and cast out, the unforgiving ghosts
I visit late at night when only God is awake . . .

Bless this ice-glazed garden of bleached stones
strewn like tiny pieces of moonlight
in sand puddles,
the wind’s grievous sigh,
the singing light,
the salt, the salt!

Most of all bless these boys
shivering in the chill light ,
their fragile smallness and strange intransigence,
so curious and shining. Bless
their believing happiness will make them happy;
that the ocean is magical, a kingdom
where we go to be human,
and grateful.

— Philip Schultz, Failure

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