Like the other great ones he wouldnít vanish
into his own destiny, kept showing up
in different parts of America, small pious towns
like this one, wooded, where he trusted
that what thumped in the human heart
would manifest, make its old nightly rounds.
ìScratch an American,î he was overheard saying
at the diner, ìand youíll find a Puritan.î
And one man nodded while another
in a John Deere cap swallowed hard,
changed the subject to the Phillies.
Hawthorne still loved the repressed, the avoided.
Nothing made him more alert than a large passion
twisted, coiled in the recesses of an innocent.
But something had changed.
People camped without fear in the piney forest,
were simply amused by tales of the Jersey Devil.
And Tuckerton now had its Seaport.Ý Its Dimmesdales
and Rappacinis had a stake in the market.Ý
Their daughters wore lipstick and openly danced
to loud music.Ý Hawthorne began to feel like the ghost
he was.Ý Grace, he lamented, was once so poignant
before this democratization of the sacred.Ý Adulterly
so much more interesting when everyone didnít commit it.