Poetry

A Letdown

Venerable city, he called it,
and though he went far from Teviot Row

it would always be home—
the heart remembered by a lad of parts.

His northern circumstance, in all its flux.

Disembodied land of the mind,
it broke like a cloudburst on his plans

to walk the earth’s low curves.

Why should it be difficult to get back?

Hadn’t his father given him a map

so that arriving from the past
he might step into the living moment?

There were nettles at the gate
and in the great house a boy rehearsing

reasons for his lifelong trip
across the trapdoor of the mind.

Home was the House of Shaws,

a place of Gothic design and catastrophic

letdown. “To set a stranger mounting

was to send him straight to his death.”

Night lengthens on his prospects
and those figures standing in the garden.

He has gone to live his calling
where only the irretrievable can be saved.

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