The glorious spaces of my youth
Are dotted now
With repetitious houses.
The faces of the hills I loved
Espouse pavement, walls, and ragged lawns.
The climbing oak is gone.
Once there were daisies, ankle deep,
Waters, grasses, sleeping places
Secret to the vines and me
Who pledged to keep them secret.
Here were violets, shaded,
Sweet in mossy damp,
And lichen, resilient, brown-edged white,
Clamped to dying branches,
Hiding the silent, fairy sprite,
Gone now with the child's delight.
But underneath cement and stone,
Under sparse clover – forlorn, alone,
Exist still the footprints of my childhood
And the hill far down, where even now
The warm sun lives
Within a brown crushed toadstool;
Within my heart, the hearts of my children
And their inherited memory;
For what I have loved, so will they,
What I have been, they will be.
Let them tear down, destroy in haste,
They cannot raze what lies
Beneath their wasting.
They cannot really fell the tree.
For though the past with will and greed embossed
Is hidden from me,
It is not lost.