Don’t tell me that you’ve never lingered
under the eaves of the mystery house,
wondering who lives there, conjuring their lives.
Don’t tell me the house has never appeared to you
in the town’s street or along a woodland lane,
where its windows throw out long squares of light.
It must be a cold night after a short day,
salt and grit glinting on pavements, ice thickening
on pot holes. You will feel a little lonely,
between the now and the then, with the old life heard
away in the hills, a faint singing of owls.
Then the house will appear, grown in the gap,
hiding its gold behind gauze or linen
until a figure opens the curtains, sees you standing there.
If you’re brave, you’ll step onto the night path,
leave your prints on thin snow and climb the steps
to the porch. At your knock, the door will open
to a room of talk, where last year’s logs
hiss and silver in the blackening stove.
The old friends will be there saying, ‘You’re late.
We waited. Where were you? ’
They’ll take your coat, forgive you anything.