Sometimes I listen to the house in fear
that floors will crack and dry joists snap
beneath the weight of years and things.
Those straining shelves of yellowed pages,
dusty boxes full of scraps
and bits and bolts, shreds and shards
of things that once were but are no more,
sigh, hung together by the will of memory.
All those weary rags of weft and warp,
an unknown’s woven history, moth-nibbled,
the sad colour of pressed flowers,
scuttle with the dry scratch of insect legs,
the dull chunks and struts and planks of wood,
once useful boxes or picture frames
and rusting bits of metal that will never run again.
I lie between the walls and listen to the night birds,
wind whispering in the trees, bending rushes on the lake,
touch the air that swishes, cool and musky,
when the silent fox pads by
and watch the pattern of the stars.
But in this cloistered place,
airless and arid as a museum case,
the rust-specked fabric
and the creaking, tired joints
and the sagging cushions cry out,
shake out the ragged collections, white flags in the twilight,
let them fly with borrowed wings
to the place where unsorted memories go.
Toss the boxes and bedding and dull brass and tin
where their dog end of life will end in silence and dust,
and the shameful, furtive snatches of memory
kept tight closed in anonymous corners
will have no more weight upon this here, this now
than the fading faces of shallow loves,
long sunk beneath the ripples of the timeless mirror pool.