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.

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