The Chair

The chair was made
By hands long dead,
Polished by many bodies sitting there,
Until the wood-lines flowed as clean as waves.

Mine sat restless there,
Or propped to stare
Hugged the low kitchen with fond eyes
Or tired eyes that looked at nothing at all.

Or watched from the smoke rise
The flame's snake-eyes,
Up the black-bearded chimney leap;
Then on my shoulder my dull head would drop.

And half asleep
I heard her creep —
Her never-singing lips shut fast,
Fearing to wake me by a careless breath.

Then, at last,
My lids upcast,
Our eyes met, I smiled and she smiled,
And I shut mine again and truly slept.

Was I that child
Fretful, sick, wild?
Was that you moving soft and soft
Between the rooms if I but played at sleep?

Or if I laughed,
Talked, cried, or coughed,
You smiled too, just perceptibly,
Or your large kind brown eyes said, O poor boy!

From the fireside I
Could see the narrow sky
Through the barred heavy window panes,
Could hear the sparrows quarrelling round the lilac;

And hear the heavy rains
Choking in the roof-drains: —
Else of the world I nothing heard
Or nothing remember now. But most I loved.

To watch when you stirred
Busily like a bird
At household doings; with hands floured
Mixing a magic with your cakes and tarts.

O into me, sick, froward,
Yourself you poured
In all those days and weeks when I
Sat, slept, woke, whimpered, wondered and slept again.

Now but a memory
To bless and harry me
Remains of you still swathed with care;
Myself your chief care, sitting by the hearth.

Propped in the pillowed chair,
Following you with tired stare,
And my hands following the wood lines
By dead hands smoothed and followed many years.
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