The School Bag

Last Look

A.D. Hope

His mind, as he was going out of it,
Looked emptier, shabbier than it used to be:
A secret look to which he had no key,
Something misplaced, something that did not fit.

Windows without their curtains seemed to stare
Inward—but surely once they had looked out.
Someone had moved the furniture about
And changed the photographs: the frames were there,

But idiot faces never seen before
Leered back at him. He knew there should have been
A carpet on the boards, not these obscene
Clusters of toadstools sprouting through the floor.

Yet Arabella's portrait on the wall
Followed him just as usual with its eyes.
Was it reproach or pleading, or surprise,
Or love perhaps, or something of them all?

Watching her lips, he saw them part; could just
Catch the thin sibilance of her concern:
“O Richard, Richard, why would you not learn
I was the only soul that you could trust?”

Carefully, carefully, seeming not to know,
He added this remembrance to his store.
Conscience, in uniform beside the door,
Coughed and remarked that it was time to go.

High time indeed! He heard their tramping feet.
To have stayed even so long, he knew, was rash.
The mob was in the house. He heard the crash
Of furniture hurled down into the street.

“This way!” the warder said. “You must be quick.
You will be safe with us”—He turned to go
And saw too late the gaping void below.
Someone behind him laughed. A brutal kick

Caught him below the shoulders and he fell.
Quite slowly, clutching at the passing air,
He plunged towards the source of his despair
Down the smooth funnel of an endless well.