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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