Executive Decisions

My mother burnt her diaries. Autumn
had come, or spring. At 80, she stood up
for the future, and exercised her rights upon the past.
All pencils saved, each simple record
made its sacrifice. Flames took them,
week by week, until her exit
unencumbered, and all entrances sealed up,
she was alone at last. No prying
biographer, or curious, late-orphaned son
to put her life together again.

Larkin, younger, and with a different end
in mind, thought much the  same,
but his were shredded from beyond the grave.
The poet parting company from the man.
25 volumes kept from 16 years,
And one final woman posthumously
employed to compost the rank, malodorous
stuff he grew his flame and fame in.

I see them now,  the personal, the literary
things, the lives sloughed off like skin.
Give it all away to fire. Keep not a scrap
until the end. No point in hanging on.
A pile of ash. A heap of ticker
tape like straw. That’s all.

Chester 1990

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