In the attic

I picked up a copy of John Drinkwater’s poems last night to remind myself why I used to like him. This is why.

And a tribute.

In the attic

In the attic, light falls dim as dusk,
Barred with drifting motes of chaff and husk,
And cobwebs hang from beams where owls would perch
In days when haylofts opened to the sky. I search

My memories, the golden motes of light,
For owl song and the scuffling in the night
Of mice or martens, scampering overhead,
I heard them once, but if I did they’re all now dead.

In attics’ dim and dusty past we sleep,
Our childhood selves, and sometimes when we weep,
We hear another voice that’s not our own,
That whispers dust mote moths and birds have flown

Swallow-winged to where the dusk light falls.
Through attic windows, when the night owl calls,
I’ll watch the last light golden in the west,
Remembering those days I have loved best.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

32 thoughts on “In the attic”

  1. Utterly beautiful and reflective – both . Firstly, I have totally forgotten Bridgewater – what a find . There’s something very special about poetry books – I find .

    Then your tribute ‘We hear another voice that’s not our own’ – cuts poignantly and is multi- layered .
    On to more then…. I wonder where that will lead ?

    1. Thank you 🙂 I found a copy of his poems in the attic and brought it down because I remembered the name as being a poet I’d enjoyed when I was at school. I’m glad I did. Those moonlit apples are an inspiration!

      1. It’s a real snapshot of life isn’t it..down to earth and honest. Your poem is dream like and honest and entered my brain I saw all of it. … beautiful 💜

      2. I’m glad you could see it. The attic here was used for hay and drying tobacco under the roof. There were just openings to hoist the stuff through, and the wooden shutters were shot to pieces by the weather. They had big holes in them anyway to let the owls in. There were dormice too, but the owls used to hunt field mice I imagine. It was a whole world up there with its own eco-system.

      3. It sounds so beautiful and yes I can see it all clearly. We have stayed in places like that in France and I love to climb up and look at it in all its decay…. Much to hubby’s chargin !

      4. We had big plans when we bought the place, but the entire floor needs replacing, it’s through all over the place and you can see into the rooms below, and insulating under the roof with all those beams is a massive job. Too expensive for us. So it stays in all it’s glory 🙂

      5. Husband has made new shutters for the west openings and blocked up the holes in the others. The owls can’t get in, but neither can the rain. It comes in through the cracks in the chimney instead 🙂
        We can’t see the moon unless we’re actually in the attic. Through the ceiling we just see dark unless we’ve left a lamp on by accident.

      6. It’s fine in the summer except for the damp that never dries out. The house stays cool even when it’s 40°+ but in the winter it’s freezing, water pipes freeze, the fridge stops working, and husband spends all his time chopping wood for the stove. In the summer, I forget how hard it is in the winter and just enjoy it.

    1. I love the loose structure of it, the lines with rhyme that you’d expect to be all the same length, but they’re not, respecting the rhythm of speech and images. And the repetition too.

  2. Thank you for the Drinkwater poem–and yours, too. It’s like he knew about your attic. There’s a beautiful flow to his, as well as the lovely images, but yours is just as lovely. I really like this:
    “We hear another voice that’s not our own,
    That whispers dust mote moths and birds have flown

    Swallow-winged to where the dusk light falls.”

    1. Thank you! I’m pleased you like it. The poem seemed to come out so easily. That’s how inspiration works I suppose. I like how I found the book in one of the boxes in the attic. Full circle. Not that we’ll have many apples to store. The bambis are working their way through the apple trees…

      1. I love when that happens (poems that just flow out).
        Well, I’m glad they’re enjoying the apples. 😀 Do you normally store apples?

      2. We don’t because we’ve never had enough, but it’s a traditional way of keeping them over the winter, lying them so they don’t touch one another in an attic.

      3. It’s certainly traditional all over Europe, though there’s that saying about rotten apples in barrels so maybe it just depends on how many apples you’re dealing with 🙂

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