Death of the Houses in Ouro Preto

Over rooftops, over time
the rain washes. And walls
that had watched men die
seen the gold slip away
known an empire’s passing
(mutely comprehended)
crumble now; to die as well.

Set thus on the hillside
less rustic than proud
in their humble whites
blues, pinks, vermilions
how permanent they seemed
and were not! As the rain
thrums on lattice and sill,

the trellis slowly rots
like decomposing lace
from a funeral dress.
Doors fall off the hinges.
Only a monorhythmic rain
seeps down through history
and the night. Houses die,

die austerely, and with time
matter itself comes to tire
of such subservience to man.
Mortar begins to macerate.
In the sierra, how subtly
things return, to and from
themselves—yet, now are lost!

The ground begins to recover
the foundations laid so
long ago, summoning all
to relapse into earth again:
that wood be re-embodied in trees
now rafters! That dust return
to simple dust along the highways!