The Curiosity of Doors
It is a bad habit, your tendency to walk through doorways
that may or may not be public,
of believing anything not closed off (and even some that are)
is open. That I am welcome.
I have seen a great deal that way.
Courtyards and horizons not meant for me.
Museums that do not seem to care
who sees them and who does not,
endowed perhaps, to cover the cost,
happy if their treasures are only theoretical
to the general public. Happily, well-displayed secrets,
I have seen catacombs. The underground railroad.
Leaching brick walls and once, love letters
that I stole and spent a week finding the lovers.
Only one lived and she cried when I handed her the packet.
I did not linger, but left through the back door,
breathing in her rose gardens. Beautiful.
Not meant for me.
I have crawled through doors in the attic
to belfries and ancient mechanisms crusted with lichen.
I found trashed furniture I wanted to restore.
Factories and churches and at times into people’s lives,
an uninvited guest. Mostly welcome.
Sometimes not, tossed out on my keister,
no longer an explorer, merely rude.
It is, I admit, a little embarrassing.
Still, I do it. Even in my age and respectability,
I do it. A bad example for my kids.
A mortification for my wife. A wanderer
who almost respects boundaries,
the idea of them, anyway, unless of course,
my curiosity overcomes the rules I was raised with,
never sure which doorways will call my name
like a siren’s song, into a new light.
About this poem
I really do tend to poke my head into places I was perhaps, not meant to go.
I was a bad example for my kids, who now as adults, do the same thing.
The picture was taken in Rome. I went through that archway too. And there, with no sign on the street, found an amazing art museum. We were the only ones there. It was glorious.