Dismay is waiting behind the door,
where across the floor, footprints like hieroglyphs
chronicle the history of past defeats.
Dead clothes, the skin of our former selves,
still tumble from broken cases, crates
split their sides with the books, a three-legged chair,
bewildered, leans in the corner where a viper’s nest
of jerseys entwines a broken lamp –
all the high spume and flotsam
washed up by the long, ebbing decades.
Better retreat from such incoherence
so like the memories that float through sleepless hours
when again I resolve to jettison life’s detritus –
especially the clutter of obsolete fantasies.
They resurrect absurdly youthful passions
exploring marvels of what might have been
but for a word misplaced or not spoken,
a touch delayed a moment too long. ‘Fool’, I say,
rehearsing great adventures that never occurred,
or which could have been avoided.
Yet knowing so little and understanding less
was all the wit I had. Besides, the play was different
when all these ghosts were living hands and eyes,
when hopes and desires which can barely be recalled
were as urgent as a trumpet. Or perhaps those scruples
were not so foolish, since every season
has its proper logic: sufficient unto its time
the reasons thereof. All this, my small wisdom suggests;
but memory and its fictions still revolve, as one by one
the years climb to the attic and the thickening dust.