When they are gone
they leave chairs in attitudes of conversation
while the words shuffle off to another room.
Only his silhouette stays, etched over decades
in light upon velvet, a still life with El Pais,
toothpicks and toffees lost between cushions.
The shutters are worn out
with looking beyond the far fields that dissolve
into milk through the copper lip of trees.
His thumb has rubbed down the brown gloss
to a keen patch of grain, whorled like an eye
keeping watch from the wood.
Perhaps you know
of a charity shop that will take the shepherdesses
boxed up in the hall with their porcelain swains?
Somewhere there’s a silent family that needs
a wall of encyclopaedias from 1972 (volume K
pressing a gardenia to its heart).
The dial has broken,
so long has the bedside radiogram been tuned
to the same station, short-waving like him
between Hilversum and Madrid, twitching
with static and meds as the military bands
tramp along behind, warless and triumphant.