To all that is left



I put down my pen,
Turn off the lamp,
And leave my desk.
(I never did understand the word 'muse',
Nor was I one who could use it.)
And I take the wooden way,
Up to the room,
Musty, unadorned,
Without warmth or detail.
And as I lie on the old wrought-iron bed,
Eiderdown heavy,
Lace-edged and quilted,
a single candle beside,
I turn,
Turn to all that is left,
And ask:

Can it really make up
For all the life unlived,
The life unseen,
For all that transpired,
And all that was taken?
For all the coastlines never walked,
All the fields never crossed,
All the sunlight missed,
All the pools never dived in,
All the friends never held?
All the touch never shared,
All the words never spoken,
All the words never written,
All that was never given,
All the rituals lost,
All the candles unlit,
All the shrines never bowed to,
All the wisdom never gained?
All the forests never lain in,
All the fires never slept beside,
All the skies never slept beneath,
All the dawns missed,
All the dreams that were burned
And then blown to the stars?
For all the life,
All the love,

All the love?

'Of course not,
Of course not'
(I hear it reply)
'For nothing ever could.'
And I turn over,
Blow out the candle
And leave it all behind.