The house stills.
She is gone − a slipknot of generation lets go the rooms,
the past, its ghosts
devolved to son and daughter, these
others of the blood.
I kept a few things, letters
from an age of letters, my own to her
my first year away, and older, a photograph of my father
in 1922, there with him
tandem on the scooter, my uncle, not yet three.
Other things, a glass bowl
ringed with freehand waves, and Pickwick Papers, the edition
loose in its binding, ruby leather crumbled.
The house stills, the sickroom, its drawers
of medicines, of resignation run-out,
the ticking centre of the place
cleared with her clothes, those sheer, bold prints promising
subtropical paths into that farther dark.
The jewellery, knots of yellow-green enamels
And my father’s paintings, his primitive style
now stylish: oils of finches, waxwings,
lifted from the frames, reveal others still bright, on black boughs
wedges of wild colour
set back-to-back behind the first.
He was working in the kitchen, the sable-tip’s chrome yellow
edging the tucked wing
fifty years ago.
Images, flying through a mirror…
In the fires of this last evening
we recommend the sunken step, the mouse
that mastered the attic maze, and too, the edgy door,
its stump of swollen grain
stuck hard, and too,
the cobweb in the hall, the mortal damp,
the ancient-bone brittleness of maples in the yard.
In a round of stone, where blown sparks fire the tinder,
we gather to an absence, against the dark
A child chases through the firelight, maple switch waving.
She is one of us, flying through the mirror
we made, that is made, somehow
of our being here.
Her stick wand figure-eights, touching each,
one by one.
Against insinuations of goodbye, the house stills.
We have gone.