16 December 2015

where do the words go when we have said them?

The Small Cabin

The house we built gradually
from the ground up when we were young
(three rooms, the walls
raw trees) burned down
last year            they said
I didn’t see it, and so
the house is still there in me
among branches as always        I stand
inside it looking out
at the rain moving across the lake
but when I go back
to the empty place in the forest
the house will blaze and crumple
suddenly in my mind
collapsing like a cardboard carton
thrown on a bonfire, summers
crackling, my earlier
selves outlined in flame.
Left in my head will be
the blackened earth: the truth.
Where did the house go?
Where do the words go
when we have said them?
“The Small Cabin” by Margaret Atwood from Selected Poems 1965-1975. © Houghton Mifflin.

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