The Housewife's Testament

by Michael Longley

Michael LongleyWife

Sons and daughters, my irreconcilables,
Stay: nephews and nieces, old enemies,
Visit my final tidiness - find
In the house I love (floors, walls, and gables)
Loud amnesty, a celebrated peace.
For this is my last will and testament:-
Bed and board for you in my narrow mind.
I became at last a mother and an aunt.

For twenty years I noticed every chair
Teetering, ready to disintegrate
- Oh infinite their appetite for hurt! -
The carpets growing stains, the creaking stair,
Rain and hail invited in by the grate.
With butlers only, gardeners and maids
My commerce, I erected in my heart
Such lonely dykes, such anxious barricades.

A housewife, wedded to my house, its bride -
Come, death and children, grant me a divorce.
Though dusty shelves await my last breath
Empty each nook and cranny of my pride.
This be my tomb, my epitaph of course
Your names carved on my chairs and apple trees.
Let grass and weeds devour my gravel path,
The moths be glutted on my tapestries.

Last updated July 30, 2022