“Bequest” by Christopher Levenson

I lie awake:  no big city white noise here.
At most a late returning cyclist contests
the claims of silence, then unexpected snow,
ticking across the window panes as softly
as the ash of Europe’s history.

Most of the folk I knew
in the volunteer work camps have died,
moved on, assumed other names.  I survive
fifty years later only by
a thread of memory.

My travelling clock’s unadjusted,
Ottawa time.  Here it is 2 a.m.
I turn on the bedside lamp, weigh up
my assets:  memories, an eye
for classical proportion, tall eighteenth century windows,
an affection for certain trees, birds, animals,
a love for this or that composer, painter, nothing
I can pass on.  If I died now, who could re-assemble
the shards of my past and how could I bequeath
the simple happiness I felt
admiring old archways, courtyards, the abbey’s carillon,
or strolling beside an elegant canal?  At the end of the day,
there is only the night, so little to bequeath.

Works Cited

  • Levenson, Christopher. Bequest. Canadian Literature 189 (2006): 49. Print.