by Steve King
A vacant house still stands in memory,
lost in tangle, past the old orchard.
No ghosts there,
just the sound of owls at twilight,
and fireflies to light a hidden path.
An old door beckoned,
rusty hinge to greet.
Still, it was no struggle,
just a reminder
time has its distinct reality
beyond the call of clockfaces
and endless afternoons.
In the furthest corner, a forgotten picture
of some long absent face,
now to be unmourned
through all new ages.
It regards the empty room,
smiles with unflinching gaze,
keeping ancient secrets
now mingled with these memories of my own.
It was discomfiting at first to stay,
as if trespassing in this other’s dream,
as if appearing unbidden
in the midst of a stranger’s
most intimate, unfinished thought.
The most unlikely sight:
a piano, waiting,
amid air that never stirred,
for the sound of new voices,
for pealing gladness, and impertinence,
and a noisy hunger for display.
Now no laughter, nor despair;
in the truest of silence,
at last, no room at all for any song.
I surveyed the scale of abandonment,
each shadow now it’s own chapter
in a long closed book,
an unsung canto to recall in part
the muted meter
of some flown soul’s epic loss.
My memory seems just another relic,
resting on these settled ruins
of some further past:
it was not a place for looking back,
for time had simply stopped,
collapsing to a last instant,
no clue to an arc of devolution;
only remains that tried in vain to speak,
like disturbed earth
that marks the shallow grave.