Poem: What Remains

What Remains

Five years since you were here last.
Five years of renovations and remodeling
during the plague years, the work
never interrupted by crowds or visitors,
and finally, you are back again,
happy to see the results of the work,
knowing first hand what it takes
to rebuild from a broken place,
the work of it, the effort. Surprised
at what was done and what was not,
the pile of bricks in the lower gardens,
unchanged from the photograph taken
five years ago. Not quite rubble. Not quite spares.
Remains perhaps, that stack,
for no restoration is complete,
no matter where you hide the things left over,
unrepaired, and waiting.

About this poem.

My wife and I went to the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Part the other weekend, to see the restoration they have been doing since Covid. It was less complete than expected, but most notable was this pile of bricks in the picture. I had taken a photograph of the exact pile of bricks five years ago, when we were last there. Exactly the same as this one.

But poems, except love poems, are never about one thing. So it is also about the work we do on our own brokenness, often repaired, sometimes amazingly, but always with a few things left over.


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