The house is all he has to leave his only offspring,
a daughter who doesn't love the sea,
a daughter who wants him to sell the house,
move to the mainland and die, become a pillar of sand
turning back to look at the life he left behind,
like Lot's wife, at Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 19:26)
Years ago, the government took control of the beach, too many shipwrecks,
a dangerous inlet, a small fishing town with too many deaths,
too many ghost stories, too many tall tales, like X-Files but off the New Jersey coastline.
Of course, this was long ago and far away,
back when you could take a train to the end of the island,
back when there was a one room school house, elegant hotels,
back when the lighthouse was not just a tourist attraction.
Truckloads of government sand, beach plum trees and dune grasses,
a jetty that still gets swallowed up at stormy high tide,
a rock puzzle of impossible size,
shelters starfish and where the poor now stand fishing for dinner.
Looking like the terrain of another planet,
almost too breathtaking to comprehend, full of non-human life, fox and rabbits,
rare and endangered birds nest there, alongside common mourning doves,
screaming sea gulls, and red-winged blackbirds
Federally Protected by signs and fences,
and I, peacefully, collect articles of rust, feathers, the remains of shipwrecks,
and seashells with holes to make things I don't call art.