The Seventh Year

by Penelope Shuttle

The seventh year
is a narrow river rushing

from bad to worse,
how can it be so hard

to bear, surely by now
loss should be light

as a Dior scarf, a bee’s wing,
a sigh?

Instead what a weighty year,
hefty as a goodbye

made of wrought iron,
a broom fashioned out of lead –

what sort of room
does such a broom sweep,
a dungeon, an oubliette?

The seventh year
has nothing to do with forgetting,

has memories the world’s
strongest man would be hard-pressed

to shift, hauling a couple of
locomotives across a goods yard

child’s-play compared
to tugging these memories
in its wake…

The seventh year bangs
its fist on the cell door,

drums itself out of the army,
lies about its past, forgets its future,

starts the year from scratch
(seven year itch?), can’t

believe the evidence of its eyes,
pulls out all the stops,

rescues itself single-handed
from drowning,

asks for many other crimes
to be taken into consideration,

is an eye shedding
the same tear over and over again
as the full-leaf trees

buck their great green manes
in the strong westerly

and the field
is a sudden elegy of sunlight.