Spring, 198-, Hudson River Valley

You wander within
This lonely house
High upon a hill
As the rain comes down
Where jonquils
Glow among the weeds
On neglected formal grounds.
It does not matter.
How you got in here,
As you pass through empty rooms
Full of empty mirrors
The floor creaking at your weight
Some doors are locked
And some are not,
These are the ones you enter.
Rooms full of cobwebbed paintings,
Books, furniture, and toys
Pass before your eyes
Until you find yourself wandering
As if in a dream.
The colors faded, the walls
Are stained, and yet you still continue
While glass eyes and painted ones
Stare past your dreaming mind.
The rain comes down against the panes
In a soft and dreaming patter
Blotting out the killing sun,
In the old palm house.
The trees are gone, as are the ferns
No orchids to be seen
As on a broken chair you ponder
The names of colors you can't recall
When all that's left to you is red.
Outside the glass the daffodils nod
Beneath the soft spring rain,
Their color burning bright,
Like a thousand fragile earthbound suns.
You wander back through this lonely house
Searching, ever searching
For what you do not know,
Nameless colors fill your mind
You cannot let them go.
It's in the nursery long abandoned
That you end your search,
Within a dusty cupboard sits
A child's forgotten paintbox.
The colors dry and shriveled up,
The brush a dirty tangle,
Yet something tells you this is it,
So you cradle it in your large hands,
Back to the empty palm house.
The colors wet, within the gloom
They transfix your eyes
As you take up the new-cleaned brush
And remind yourself, as you paint
The nodding daffodils,
That red is not the only color.


Author's Note: Irvingcliff was another one of those forgotten places that succumbed to the bulldozer in 1983. If you'd like to see some images of it, the book Phantoms of the Hudson Valley by Monica Randall has some lovely pictures and descriptions of Irvingcliff, and several other treasures along the Hudson River.