The first time I visited, I walked the streets at night,
past closed stores and brightly lit restaurants
with their specials proudly displayed in the street.
The smell of onions, meat and seafood grilling
wafted into the street. Temptation.
I could hear the bay, soft waves and wind.
In one dark corner, a bar, the Grotto.
Faintly, I heard music, raucus Southern rock,
out of place at this end of the world New England spot.
I smiled at the dichotomy. Temptation.
There was a time, long ago,
when bars were my second home,
much as diners and dives are today.
I would sit in the corner, and listen,
and watch people through the smoke.
I don’t think I ever picked up a woman in a bar.
I never got quite drunk. but I loved the atmosphere,
loose and sad and unrestrained, for better or worse,
an alcohol fueled honesty.
As I walked by, someone opens the door to leave
and you can smell the smoke. Temptation.
I made my way through the town. And back again,
giving each temptation a second chance to lure me in.
And why not? Why not surrender?
There is nothing in any of these doorways
that would reduce me to sinner status.
Well, maybe a little gluttony, but momentary, no more.
My soul would survive that.
But I am not here for these things. I am here for peace,
and I turn away from the noise and walk towards the pier.
Most of the fishing boats are gone, at work during the night.
The ones left bob on the waves.
Work lights flood the decks. Ropes are deftly coiled.
I breath in the air, A mix of salt
and the remnants of yesterday’s catch.
In one of the smaller boats an old man mends nets.
He nods. I nod back.
It has been a good trip. Tomorrow I drive home.
There is the one last temptation. To stay.
But I will pass by this one as well.
Living at the end of the world has its charm
but those I love and those that love me
live five hours away. My life is not my own
and I would not want it to be.
As beautiful a temptation solitude can be,
in the end, isolation is the enemy.
You have learned this the hard way,
and dense as you are, you rarely make the same mistake twice,
no matter the temptation.
About this poem.
This one just showed up. When that happens I just write, and figure out what it means later.
The picture was taken in Provincetown, Mass, one of my two favorite places in the world.