The tenant

She has caught glimpses as she’s cleared the clutter of years of emptiness. The old place breathing again through open shutters. It blinks the unfamiliar light. So many years. And all that time I walked condemned to loneliness.

She saw me first churning butter. The shock wrote itself on her face. The disbelief. The fear I tried to quell with a smile. Even at that kitchen task I wore my finery. Again when she disturbed me at the piano. I hope she thought me an elegant lady, dressed so prettily. Not a servant girl.

She caught a flash of me as I headed down the stairs, covered now with boards he put down after he put an end to us.

I saw her combing through the three volume history but she will not have found me there. For we were only man and woman to the walls of his house. I was his love and his shame. With curtains drawn we conducted our unspoken passions. He filled the trunks with the fabrics he imported and had me make my own things for our folly.

Now she’s pulling the floor up. Soon she’ll find my basement. The trunks still full of offcuts. The sewing machine as I sat at it that night. A wedding gown beneath its needle hemmed part way.