heart of stone

an early version of this has been posted here – this is a lock-down edit

heart of stone
I should not have climbed the stairs:
this dismal room,
haven for spiders,
moths, and mice,
once rang with music,
song, and lovers’ ecstasies
and on one night of wonder,
a mother in labour
the walls are the deep maroon
I painted forty years ago
traces of numbers remain,
scratched in the plaster,
of girlfriends (women now)
I rang after midnight
to drink wine, smoke hash,
have sex maybe
‘what do they think of me?
do they remember me
with affection or bitterly?
I’ll never know unless I hang loose
at the gates of my cemetery
I meant no harm… anyway’
the debris over the floor disgusts me
‘is this the true me?’
lifting the lid of a wood-worm chest, 
I find a charcoal sketch, 
linked fingers and a new born – 
created in love
and a caption,
“our hands our daughter”
(before that love turned sour)
her birth was forty years ago,
in a warm water pool –
this room was joyous then
filled with candle light,
god, and Tabula Rasa
a memory of holding the child
of mother’s tears,
of promises made
as I cut the cord
and meant to keep, 
‘I will always care for you, support you, be here for you…’
(I forget the rest)
I took from the chest
a heart-shaped stone,
etched ‘I. L. Y.’  
a long forgotten love token 
I recall a river rushing,
and a nail file scratching
I can still feel the heat in the stone
as my hand wrapped around it
and that girlfriend’s full red lips
as we sealed our love with a kiss
but her face escapes me
and her name 
regret at years
chasing granite hearts
engulfs me,
I’ve given up on love, or, 
love has given up on me
I pick up a looking-glass
tell my reflection,
‘you will find happiness – this mood will pass’
from a pitiless mirror  
an unbelieving old man face
peers back at me.

© coolhermit 2023
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