This is the hut where she used to work; and there
under the paint-peeled corrugated iron
with square small windows set in wooden frames
by thumb and spatula she played the old Art games;
under the moon now, far from bright Orion,
in misty autumn, tenantless and bare
it stands so useless in the bleakly chilling air,
nettle-surrounded, a falling garden shed,
and cobwebbed to the mean and spidered roof,
sad as great Abbeys – for Time is so aloof,
indifferent to that life that once she led
when she sat smoking in that single chair.
The canvases have gone. Some empty frames odd-piled,
African figures on the windowsill,
witness the young Slade student of shared youth,
paint-splashes hold a bitter kind of truth,
the easel stands at ease in empty drill.
And with these things I must be reconciled.
The friends and sisters go; and all who had in that past smiled
(and some had beauty, some were bright with wit)
must forfeit health and come to this one room
as dark with memory as a Victorian tomb,
and we must wrestle with understanding it
until from life and hope we are exiled.
from The Collected Ewart 1933-1980: Poems (Hutchinson, 1980), © Gavin Ewart 1980, used by permission of Margo Ewart.