a journal of fantastical poetry

Living-Long House

by Bethany Powell

The rising whir of insects fades to the clatter of skeleton leaves—
Golden light of summerlasting wears to the silver of sundying.
Another year passing, in the eternity of an empty-wide manor
where spider and her wedding trains garland the house
in a series of illfated marriages that tear and decay.

The last hill, where the manor sits, through the shrubbery
a light comes on: east wing's top floor, overlooking the woods.
There, with a few finger-dusted books, broken soft with love,
is the small crackle of a fire, to take the bite off the quiet
and a monster, who counts the years in November palls.

She has waited, not always solitary, but ever alone in this house.
It seems easier, now, to scan the hours of her longevity in books,
rather than in bartering out more visits from only-kindly boys.
The village below has not forgotten her, though her occasional suitors
punctuate each generation with new tales of exaggerated ugliness.

Otherwise unscathed, though, each homecoming from the hilltop manor,
so they send a boy off, once in a generation, without too much sorrow.
She is glad for the decade or more between, though once pining through it.
Hope is like a candle—it can gutter but still burn.
And gutter it does, each time. Between-times are more comfortable.

Now, her windows seep burnpile smoke, wafting in as ghosts of the woods.
The crisp air at the sash could smell of apples, of leaves melting to earth,
if only it were lifted, but fear of bells or carriage wheels
or other marks of time, date, and the nearing of the end
close it. Just that tint of smoke steals in, to breathe: November.

May 27th, 2017

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