The Hall

The London Magazine - - CONTENTS - Holly Howitt

‘At the door­way (at one end of the hall), a stud­ded door with strap hinges in moulded stone ar­chi­trave, with carved, painted date 1677 and ini­tials; how­ever, the stone has been worked to read 1667.’

It is Oc­to­ber, 2017 And each foot­fall in­side Is un­known; this hall Comes with­out light­ing, And she feels for the floor As if pothol­ing. It is Oc­to­ber, 1677 And a stone­ma­son chips Into sand­stone, miss­ing his mark As a kite plunges For iron riches: the crest Reads, wrongly, 1676, in the dark.

In the fu­ture, she learns To nav­i­gate with­out light, To find the dipped treads three steps From the ar­chi­trave, which is now A grab rail: she is a bat over The scabs of tile and Ja­cobean fret­work.

In the past, a man and wife Nav­i­gate by fire­light, the steps Flush against vel­vet feet, the house Awash with can­dle and fat and steam: The house alive, bathed in its own light.

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