Edge of the End
A tree grows near the ruins, close enough
the roots have begun to push apart the flagstone foundation,
lifting them, bending the floor joists.
It is only a matter of time before they break.
There is no glass in the windows.
Grape vines and thorns writhe through the openings,
rangy in winter, they grow thick with green in spring.
It is only a matter of time before the swallow what is left.
You stand and look. Your eyes are moist with near tears.
Another one at the edge of the end.
Sooner or later, we all fall if left alone long enough.
You remember how close you once came, to the brink, just there.
You have saved one or two. But that is all you have in you.
A man’s got to know his limitations. So we are told.
This one will fall. Abandonment and time
are always fatal.
You rejoice in your own restoration.
Saved less by your own effort than the attention of others,
cutting down the weeds before they became trees
with killing roots.
About this poem
Abandonment is fatal. To buildings. To people. It has killed more of both than I like to think about. Damn near got me once.
Isolation is the enemy.
The line “A man’s got to know his limitations.” actually comes from a Dirty Harry movie. I use it often, in entirely different contexts than in the movie.
The house is on Route 22A Vermont between Fair Haven and Vergennes.