The arc of the driveway is what’s left,
where someone built a house and tended a lake
to walk beside, discussing politics
and how a tree moves in the wind. Its music
is a jetty drifting away from the boathouse
whose rolled-shut metal door tricks
visitors into thinking it holds a life raft.
The house drifts beyond its purpose,
is demolished for a car park and picnics
and returns in a special room, small, sturdy,
becoming anonymous as its windows empty,
enormous insects swanning around — they own the place —
occasionally stunning themselves on the glass.
The country, sometimes, still appears to ask
to just be taken down, even by a tourist, on no one’s side,
a tourist lost at home, blue book open, ticking off each task.
But when old Colin, in pajamas, explained how I could evade
the barbed and electric wire that fenced off fields
and the bull let loose to scare the stranger off
(I’d stopped to ask for directions), I was ready to wade
through cowshit and knee-high grass to see if
the poet, long abroad, was written in the ruin’s native life.
Colin stopped me then, leaning on the open door of the Renault—
noting first the English registration
I’d parked outside his roadside bungalow,
and said his father hated that his mother called him Colin,
but he’s the one who stuck it out. No one,
it seems he had to tell me this, no one belonging to them ever had
to go over to England, a sally he follows up with a question
about where I live, before naming the man on whose land the castle rested:
we do nothing, he says, but damage what we inherited,
bulldozing the medieval church and causing the collapse
of the foxhole the settler and his family used, legend has it,
to make, under a smoldering fire, their escape.
This new heir has his eye on the castle, no doubt.
It will soon be more literature than history. We are not
all the same, he said. I recall, at the edge of the clearing,
the grant’s nice clause saying the poet had a right
to possess new areas discovered by his survey ... To belong,
a moment’s authority is nothing.