There is the scratch, scritch-scratch
Of bristles on the hardwood floor
From where she’s been sweeping at your tears.
You’re leaving water marks on her tables,
Rings around cups, collars, eyes.
She’s kept quiet, content enough
To piece together your broken heart,
Like mother’s rare china through slick hands -
But the only designs in this red are from the hairline cracks
Always healing, always resealing.
You lie on her couch, to the wall, to her face,
You curl as though the hearth had been the womb.
She passes her worry by filling your stomach and your mind
Her hands are wearing thin,
Calluses from where she’s gripped the broom against the storm,
Your faces red, though all the tears were falling for you.
You sleep, she sweeps,
The housemaid to your loneliness,
Making sure you have enough to lose.
You went into her house as a fool boy,
While she was but a fool girl;
You leave now, bearing a sword before you,
Foolish child, looking to start wars with the sons of monks,
Bearing your shield before you proudly –
Is that the way you shall return to that lonely house,
Or will you come, back down, upon your shield,
Long after that lonely woman has become a crone?
She will not feel anger for the blood on your sword,
Or know the number of heads taken, warrior, maiden;
She will forgive you for all your acts, your blindness,
Your callous nature, your ill mood;
All these will she wipe away with her witch’s broom,
But she cannot forgive your leaving