French Windows

A poem about what happens to a room when the outside comes in.

French Windows

It all followed as a matter of course
after the side of the house
was opened up, no-one noticing at first

the train of consequences
which slipped one after the other
through French windows latticing the garden.

Silt of sunshine, tree dapple, sky’s clarities
in glass, and the painting of walls
in various shades of sage, leaf, grass, apple.

A lifted carpet; the laying bare
and smoothing-down of a wooden floor.
A rug paved in warm earth colours.

The slow creeping over mantels and tables
of house plants. Shiver of leaf-shadow
and leaf shape, each side of windows.

Days lengthening, and the house hinged
on one side like a doll’s, wide open
to the summer’s murmurings:

laughter, to and fro of children;
smells of cooking along the breathing edges
of gardens. Tables and chairs spreading

from room to patio. Twist and flutter of birds
in a mirror, the tiny white thread of a plane
crossing the lacquered surface of the piano.

All day long, time’s seepage between
floorboards. Knots darkening in the wood grain
like eyes. Cracks furring over with leaf spore,

lichen; butterflies folding on cushions,
the garden settling itself quietly into the room,
bringing the sky with it, and all its flitting,

velvety companions. At dusk the soft flap
of moths on light shades, or high up
in corners the webbed skin wings of bats.

And all this happening slowly,
as a matter of course, with no one noticing,
till one night coming down

to find the room a garden,
with the trees hushed, and the owls
hooting, and the windows still open.