Abstract Magazine International | A Hundred Years in the Basement by Gary Galsworth
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A Hundred Years in the Basement by Gary Galsworth

16 Jun 2017, Posted by admin in Poetry

Art: Linda Chapman



The lights don’t reach the far corners of this basement.

And a puddle has formed near the back stairs.

Through the window well you hear rain dripping off the roof.


Me. I’m knee-deep in the litter and leftovers of our family’s lifetimes,

I’ve got to pare it down.

Got to get over being gripped in the familiar, the rediscovered—stalled in recollection.

We nearly put out Ma’s art deco dresser last week. But then I caught a bitter taste, a hurt enlivened, and of course I love you.

You thought it had style, or that it would surely come back in vogue.

So I’ll keep that well-made, kind-of-ugly dresser.

For now at least.


Narrow paths run between islands of our collective history.

It can’t all be precious, portentous, collectable.

And it’s getting cold down here.

Get some hot tea. Plod on.

Keep distilling—imagined pasts from this crazy quilt, this arrangement, we call the present.


But I don’t have the nerve to set it all out in garbage bags, or leave it

boxed and moldering in these damp corners.


The deeds are done. What’s left, some threadbare traces?

Priceless moments once, of anticipation, payoff, consequence. Should we conjure up

all that again?


The boxed, the stacked, they are beyond our shabby efforts to measure,

find an explanation, maybe some relief.

Could it have been otherwise?


Lived lives, tucked into time, like tired children in their beds,

in sleep too deep for dreams.


About the author:

Gary Galsworth is from the New York City area. After the Marine Corps, he studied visual arts in Chicago and New York City. He became a professional plumber and is also a lifelong practitioner of Zen and Vipassana meditation. Gary has published two previous books of poetry: “Yes Yes”, and “Beyond The Wire”.


Linda Chapman, Photographer, Sculptor; London, @lindachapman_art

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