Widow's Walk

‘The daily diminishing of me went on
and after I was emptied fate gave up
and left me standing there, abandoned’
                        -R. M. Rilke
Clacking the stair to the top,  
her sermons walked
to relay such a terminal tale  
in sync with the ticking clock.
And high atop that steep ladder stair,
a rooftop promontory in brisk air
where sailing ships were once observed
as once again was hope preserved
On a horizon indecent with loss
empty but for crying gulls;
a small railing prevents a dire fall,
but what a fall to see nothing at all.        
The sea bore his eyes as he lay dying,
the wind bore his mind as he kept trying,
but it is time, he said, I must go;
the grandfather clock has told me so.        
And so she walked along the beach
without the patter of his feet,
only her own to speak to her soul,
only a worn bible left to firmly hold.
In twilight’s dusk and evening’s fire
the crackling embers of fading desire
smoky but for the chimney’s sweep
leaving a generation’s ashes to hold and keep.        
Under a mantle decorated in memories
vases full of eucalyptus and holly berries,
glorious youth’s colorific garden now gone
all that was left sung in a listless song.
A limp hand to lift in vain,
how her every smile death would shame.
How unremoved the black frock
around her every carefree thought.
How past achievement glowed so bright,
a candle flickering in a permanent night.
to walk among the shadows that emerge
each step such an effort in return.          
The sands of time so stretched before
a blue horizon of sky and ocean blurred.
The boats that pass they come and go,
to watch them a pastime come and gone.
A beckoning horizon waits patiently ‘till dawn
to recieve her last vestige of true love gone.
The tide rising to engulf her outpouring of grief
obliterating her efforts to no relief.
To be at last lost and forgotten at sea
unbeknownst to the rest of humanity onshore.
What was tall and skyward reaching
now sinks beneath and retreats
into obscurity and obsolescence.              
His plaid shirt still hung in the closet,
the arms still creased and bent
at the worn elbow patches,
the collar still dingy.
His shoes were still freshly scuffed.
His presence not gone, but no voice
to announce it.
Today she gathered flowers for him,
how he would have loved this.
She imagined him placing them in
her own hands cupping what was
empty, austere, grand:
This began the widow’s walk.              
Nightfall darkens even more the lack of talk;  
the birds become conversationalists,
the sky a face to gaze upon
even as sleeping angels walk.
Even as her empty heart retreats
pervading its own faint beat;
a death construes this lull,
it empties a cistern that was once full:
Why love, why love,
if only to live to see it fade.
Footsteps are meant to disappear
even as we advance on our way.                
Was time the synchronous pace
that love forgot,  
hands wringing an old piece of  
a patchwork of frayed cloth
fallen from the wardrobe;
a tiny sign of something
hardly ever lost.
The notion as pale as sail ships;
white specks on the horizon,
her skin as frail as old porcelain:
A teacup feathered and stained,
a teapot covered in dust.
A rush of salt sweet meadowy air
reminded her of his gait along the shore
by the street, his hurried pace to get
somewhere, yet there was nowhere
to go but back home at sundown
for supper.                    
But now, the dishes clack a familiar language;
dinner for one, a sunset alone in ochre silence
on a motionless wall:
Tick, tick tock, followed by a gong;
another day heavied and closer to gone.
Her paper heart wilted whilst she slept,
the empty bed beside her folded neatly
in moonlight.  
Its crisp coldness in shades of paleness.
Her hand strewn across touching nothing
but air, for he was gone.
His shadow remained, or at least,  
she thought it still there;
for how she relied on shadows to care.
As she held his face in her empty belly
she thought she saw him come ashore,
as the tide washed his footsteps away.                
Written by PoetsRevenge
Published | Edited 17th May 2020
Author's Note
Based on the true story of my Nana and Grandpa, who owned a grandfather clock for many years, she outlived him by about a year. Also inspired by the 'widow's walk' atop my childhood home. Quote is...
Based on the true story of my Nana and Grandpa, who owned a grandfather clock for many years, she outlived him by about a year. Also inspired by the 'widow's walk' atop my childhood home. Quote is from ‘Song Of The Widow’ by R. M. Rilke. 'A widow's walk, also known as a widow's watch or roofwalk, is a railed rooftop platform often with a small enclosed cupola frequently found on 19th-century North American coastal houses. The name is said to come from the wives of mariners, who would watch for their spouses' return, often in vain as the ocean took the lives of the mariners, leaving the women widows' (Wikipedia). An entry in comp Napowrimo.
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