The mountains carry snow, the season fails.
Jackstraw clapboard shivers on its nails,
the freezing air blows maple leaves and dust,
a thousand nails bleed laceries of rust,
slates crack and slide away, the gutters sprout.
I wonder: do a dead man’s bones come out
like these old lintels and wasp-riddled beams?
I ask in simple consequence of structure seen
in this old house, grown sturdy in its fall,
the brace and bone of it come clear of all
I took for substance, what I could not prove
from any measure of design or love.
Or is it rather that he falls away
to no articulation but decay,
however brightly leap the brass-hinged bone,
beam and rafter, joist and cellar-stone?
John Engels, “The Homer Mitchell Place” from Weather-Fear: New and Selected Poems (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1983). Copyright © 1983 by John Engels. Used with the permission of the author.
Source: Weather-Fear: New and Selected Poems 1958-1982