The Rope Fence of the Pastel Houses was a poem that I returned to many times over the years. One draft then another then another then another was discarded. This poem was probably reworked more than any other poem that I’ve ever written, with the exception of one which is called The Corner of Farm and Lincoln Rds (and which is still not finished).
The poem tells of a young man going on his way along a pretty road where he meets others and sees the sights. I imagine it to be set in New England, perhaps in an area like Martha’s Vineyard.
The poem rhymes and is written in blank verse.
I pass a seashell of no significance
as I follow the curves of a whitewashed fence
and the uneven coastline of the sea.
The fence is jagged, hardly even, somewhat ragged,
with braided rope in place of slats,
stretching further than I can see.
Above my head, squawking shrilly, are hoary seagulls on the wing—
circling, circling, flitting, snatching, snatching at a crust of bread
then aloft again to form a ring.
And in the distance, softly scratching their stemmed backs upon the posts,
are coastal grasses, likely latching their seeds upon white painted posts,
for the wind to blow and foster breeding.
To my left are pastel houses, built on stilts with reading nooks
and oriels for those with books
to put their backs to while they thumb through pages of Of Mice and Men.
While from a cattail, singing sweetly, warbles warmly the gentle wren
Brown and round and barred so drably, yet still considered very fair,
The pleasant wren makes moving music then flies upon a gust of air.
I continue on my road to fortune, whistling with the wandering wind,
Getting there as quick as those folk who have in mind no certain end,
And speaking with an amiable neighbor, I’m kindly told a thing or two
That when traveling over any distance, it’s but common sense to enjoy the view.