Suddenly the day is done.
You look up from your occupation on the floor,
some serious play, and see that misted darkness
drifted in and took your sunny room.
Your Mother watches gravely as you put your toys away,
and when you cannot find your best,
and fret, for you are tired,
she smiles and you recall –
you gave that dear possession to your friend
who came to play.
This memory bestows relief:
You are just a child,
but you are her child.
Now she gives you a small dinner,
and robes you for the night,
in a white gown scented with myrrh,
and you begin to drowse standing by the door.
And the fire goes out.
Mother, ever gracious,
makes somberly a circuit of the chamber.
As she goes, she lights slim candles all around,
and last of all, she puts one candle in your hand.
So it is really true – even summer days
come to a close and bedtime really does arrive.
It was difficult to realize that as you played.
The room feels cold. The room repulses you:
that room you felt so friendly,
and so fine a place to spend the day –
Dread huddles in its corners.
You cannot stay here now.
Mother sees you to the door;
your nurse will walk you up the stairs.
Evening has come
and Father is waiting
to bless your night.
The door thuds closed
behind your back
and you begin to climb the stairs
in darkness feathered by a candle flame.
You hear your mother singing to you from below.
“Memory eternal, memory eternal, memory eternal!”
Where are the stairs?
Where is the lighted candle?
Where also is the dark?
If you turn, where is the door through which you came?
Where is the house and where are you yourself?
What are the names
what are the processes
by which you can continue to exist
in this dismantling?
The darkness and the nothing shift;
you are less than embryo enwombed.
Yet something like a voice
is doing something, still, like singing.
Memory eternal, memory eternal, memory eternal.
Your own allotted time for remembering is past.
You had a summer day in which to recall Someone –
others had short winter days, full of only suffering.
All that is – and you no longer know what ‘all’ may be –
all rests in a more eternal Memory.
Some light that was a candle flame remains
though candles are useless to you now.
The shining of it has a shape
a key made for your mind’s lock.
Song and flame awake, now,
a Memory not yours, and yet for you.
A Memory that knows Eternity
is not so fluid and forgetful
as memories aligned with merely Time.
Eternal Memory does not allow
the backward rush of things into the past
where they decompose in the muddy banks of history
and are lost.
There is no upstairs or down:
you climb for another reason.
Mother is not left behind.
The toy you gave away – even that is present here.
Last of all your sunny room will be roused
from its dreadful slumber
by a sunrise of remembering.
the inward-facing ascent which began
like the climbing of a stair.