In This Shed (Written June 30)

In This Shed

 

In this shed he sat on a little stool

And hummed tunes he had learned

As a boy and as a young man,

 

Though he could no longer remember

The words. He could remember the tunes

But not the words. He didn’t mind it

 

When his brother or his sister came in

And sat with him, and hummed along

And maybe filled in some of the words,

 

Though he didn’t like it if they tried

To talk to him. He would get very upset

When he couldn’t remember their names,

 

Or who they were. He preferred to be alone,

And to keep his thoughts and daydreams

To himself. Sometimes he’d scribble a few words

 

On a scrap of paper and stick the paper

To the wall of the shed. These were the words,

He would tell himself, he had been trying so hard

 

To remember. Eventually, he covered all four walls

With these scraps of paper, and when his wife,

Who had been dead for ten years, came in

 

And sat down in the chair opposite him,

He would tell her exactly what they meant.

But later, when he died, and his son and his daughter

 

Took them down and tried to make sense of them,

They found that they had nothing to do with the songs

Their father had remembered. They had nothing to do

 

With anything, as far as they could see. Though there was

One word, which their father kept repeating on note after note,

Among so many illegible words, the word “stranger.”