End of the Block

Matthew Bailey

At the edge of autumn and the end

of the street stands a faltering

fence guarding what’s left of a two story

house, now merely a mess of

timbery broken glass  

threatening to become nothing more

than a pile of memories, tattered and true.

The peeling paint and shattered shingles

leave intermittent traces of a home,

welcoming and warm, filled

with the sounds of summer, teeming

with the imperfect perfection reflected

in the eyes of a child growing up far too fast

and fleeing further from the seeming confines

of family, seeking something

always found

at the beginning and

remembered at the close.

When the wind softly whistles through

widening gaps in the wooded walls,

the dormant corpse becomes animated,

reminded of its slumber

waiting for the marriage of past and present

at a time where little is more

incommensurable than this,

impossible instants of wedding bells and

infant cries housed in a humble casket of

insulation and two-by-fours.

Testing the rusty hinges, the gate gives way

to a barren yard bookended by withering elms

whose weary arms once shaded

pirate quests and endless games of catch

carried out across the span of adolescence, now

fading in the albums on the top most shelf

gathering the same dust that settles on the windowsills.

Disturbed only by the last-lingering spirits haunting

this former abode—

seeking what is found at the end and

remembered in the middle—

this place is fettered

to simple requests,

for the winter to be the spring,

for the butterfly to become the caterpillar,

for the grown to be the innocent clinging

to plucked dandelions yellowing clinched fingers

without a care in the world.

But repairs cannot be made with cemetery stone:

what’s left will continue to crumble

beneath the weight of a loss that will strip

the foundation to nothing

in the hopes that it can finally

forget and be forgotten,

drifting away in the autumn breeze

at the edge of eternity.