Legacies by Bill Manhire

This poem is taken from PN Review 34, Volume 10 Number 2, November – December 1983.

Bill Manhire is a frequent PN Review contributor

It was nothing like a legacy.

We didn’t know the word.

We dug a hole and buried things in bottles,


a home-made picture dictionary

and seven orange stamps,

an outline map of land and water,


descriptions of our house and school

and things we did there,

news of those days in which we lived.


We laid them deep because they had to last.

Beings with wings would come

in time to come and dig; curious to learn


how people were in that century before

the terrible years of intergalactic war.

Those bottles won’t have floated far


but whatever’s there by then

will hardly matter. Something

will have made its way through cork


and hatched, and hatched again.

Grubs which grow wings

or eat dark leaf and wood,


stuff rising to the surface leaving

other stuff behind. Things

that eat things! the sizzling colonies,


the meals of afterbirth and rot.

They’ve got my drawing of a bicycle,

three syllables above two wheels.

Published by pnreviewblog

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