and when we are through there will be singing and silence,
the book we were reading open to the particular page we loved,
the mug we drank from daily stained with our lips,
the bed embedded with our soft imprint.
there will be a great lifting of hands and wine glasses,
stories resurrected and sifted and catalogued,
the flag with the family crest flown and saluted.
and when we are through there will be what we cannot
take with us: children dipping toes into the first pool of summer,
the garlic fields down 101 and the air heavy with their perfume,
an urge to take a midnight walk, the curtains billowing with spring,
the sound of the guitar after months of neglect.
and when we are through there will be too much and not enough,
the coffee pot will be emptied and refilled, desserts surrendered
to the long table brought in from the garage, a new geography of photographs
in the living room, prayers rendered into song, hands on the backs
of the chairs of strangers, an entire room contained by memory.
there will be dancing even, spontaneous twirls in the kitchen,
or under moonlight, or in the shower, getting ready to greet the guests.
there will be private moments of anguish and the small disasters of grief.
a strawberry will fall from the pyramid and threaten a stain on the carpet.
cracks will appear on the ceiling, in the tub, on the steps leading to the front door.
and when we are through there will be an echoing house, piles of paper
to sift through, phone calls to return and notes to write, a diminishing stack
of dishes. there will be objects found behind a desk, small tokens of fresh value,
a song that will begin to take on meaning, a favorite chair left permanently empty.
when we are through the weeds will flourish, and algae will threaten the pool,
but someone will enter the house as if it were a church, an altar, a rite of passage,
and feel the walls visibly pulsate, as if they were still breathing.