I still think, often, about a taxi driver
I met in London, and his house.
As we glid through the rainy city and its starlit streets,
he told me about the derelict building they bought and gutted, from a grieving widow who wanted rid of the memory.
There was so much love in this home, she told him.
He, the husband, had been a garden of potted warmth.
So retain it, she clasped, retain it.
And he did.
Moth-chewed furniture and crackled lightbulbs
egressed one-by-one,
and soon this magnificent cavern,
full of a coupleʼs life & love, was empty.
In the kitchen, something still breathing - a hearth still beating! An oven, the oven, his oven,
clay and burnt orange with an upward chimney.
And our taxi driver cleaned the crumbling paradise, top to bottom. This castle, once home to so much life, was stale, saddened, empty without people! But he cleaned it!
Gone were the smashed windows, the ripped carpets,
the traces of a houseʼs loneliness!
Like smoke floating out from the oven,
new memories sprung from the fallen husband.
Like roots through bones, our taximanʼs family
hung their own paintings and made their own breakfasts
and gathered, by that same clay oven,
that withstood so much change.
And you feel it, he told me,
as we splashed over Vauxhall bridge,
you feel him by that oven. Their love is still here.
Itʼs in our coffees in the morning and in
visits by my childrenʼs children.
That oven, that hearth, fills the whole home
as a heart films a body.
And we are so happy,
and we are so grateful.