Big Doors

I have seen with my own eyes doors so massive
that two men would have been required
to push open just one of them.
Bronze, grating over stone sills, or made of wood
from trees now nearly extinct.

Many things never to be seen again!
The fury of cavalry attacking at full gallop.
Little clouds of steam rising
from horse droppings
on most of the world’s streets once.

Rooms amber with lamplight
perched above those streets.
Pilgrimage routes smoky with torchlight
from barony to principality through forests
that stood as a dark uncut authority.

A story that begins “Once upon a time.”
Messengers, brigands, heralds
in a world unmapped from village to village.
Legends and dark misinformation,
graveyards crowded with ghosts.

And when the rider from that story at last arrives,
gates open at midnight to receive him.
Two men, two men we will never know,
lean into the effort of
pushing open each big door.

Richard Tillinghast

The first line, that insistance that he saw it with his own eyes, protests too much, to me, and as we go on, it seems less likely. And yet I know what he means… I’ve seen these things too. The beautiful, dramatic past, that might never have existed. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived in it. Many of us have.

Beautiful poem. No one thinks of the door openers.

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