A House with the Door Never Locked

If night were a house where someone died
stillness would define it,
forest would seal the windows,
the pulse of anticipation, 
slowed to memory and regret,
would no longer disturb the leaves;
the moon, laundered and hung to dry
would muffle itself in clouds.

This is a house you might enter expecting the past to flow:
once there were rhythms of walls and cupboards,
carpets dimpled with footsteps.
Now even the ghosts are quiet. 
Here is the room where lovers lived, 
and thieves, sometimes together, more often alone,
treasuring the murky nowness;
here night-birth babies exchanged
one dark for another
at the end of the hall is the chamber where 
a woman, fey and sleepless, 
set out across miles of sheets to shop for dreams; 
the man beside her farmed lush fantasies, 
but who remembers the harvest?

And what of the old? The vast night door stands open; 
they welcome the traveller with hot milk, chamomile,
the dregs of curiosity;
a lone grey cat creeps in, pours itself into the shadows
waits, watching and preening through the ticking hours
till the heartbeat no longer taps its iambic strain.  
Somewhere a rain-slicked train, unblinking, impassive 
carries the living away,
children, radiant
and numerous as the stars
and just as far

Sylvia Adams