. On Passing My Seventieth Year | London Progressive Journal
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On Passing My Seventieth Year

Mon 27th May 2019











I.

Hang the buntings up high

Bedecked with colours of roses and narcissi

Across the seventy years gone by

And sing the praises of seconds as they fly

When I consider these three score and ten

I know that this first second then

Is a bonus since my lights should now dim

By God’s will unless I be fully tim

So to celebrate

From morn till late

Do a jig or two

As we used to do

Maybe sing a little

In a voice now brittle

And then when done

Search again for more fun

Maybe not.

Act your age.

With wisdom.

And gentle thought. What would be best,

Is to spend a moment or two

Reflecting on how we came here.

Seventy years have brought us

To this minuscule spot soon to become past.

What is the result of the millions of

Other seconds that have cascaded by?

Show me the highlights

In these days of instant info

There is little patience for detail


II.

The highlights then in characters so few:

I remember stories

Today’s books

Some poems memorised

Kindly father after

Mother went to a better place

Kindly sister

Pushed to surrogate motherhood

When barely out of childhood

Brothers who laughed

And sister who sang out

“You keep writing

You will have the last laugh”

Horrible schooling

One gentle teacher

Emma, Jane Eyre

And Crime and Punishment

Al- Mutanabi’s divine poetry so meet

And ancient Arab love poems to woo by

Useless youth with much verse

And endless first loves

First Cyclamen

First snow fall

First summer warmth

First listening tree

Many many first kisses

Each more innocent than the one before

College and university

Books, books and more books

There! That was life

And these the highlights

Little to show for it

But much to be grateful for

And more to be happy about

The despair of politics

I leave out

The horror of a lost homeland

I have learnt to be stout

And pretend that it never happened

For there is little light

At the end of our tortuous tunnel

And when seen

It is a bastard flashing a light

To tell us to move on

For as victims we are guilty

Of what I know not


III.

So how come you are so contented?

Explain. Share that good fortune.

Is it wealth by stealth?

Health through love of life?

Or is it warmth within

And security without?

Last night

I heard a piercing shriek

Searching in the dark

I saw a fox

Under the maple tree

Meowing like a cat

Silhouetted against the tree

As the moon made night day

And showed us both the way

I came forward

To see what I could do

The fox limped off

Into the darkness

And let out one last moan

Reminding me of when a child

I tried to give milk to an injured cat

That refused to lap it up

As its large eyes stared up

And taught me about death

Not that I understood then

As I do that little fox limping off

And I turned and walked in

Stood in the dark for ages

Hugging a hot mug of tea

Hoping my friend would return

And, darkness engulfed, I knew

I knew where life’s beauty lies

It lies within

In the here and now

It lies in our deepest

Hearts, loves and all things living

It lies in wishing to relieve our common weal

And, for me, mon ombre portée has disappeared

Into the darkness with that poor fox

And I have taken control and achieved security

Internal peace held together by

That recognition of those limitations we all have.


IV.

Health I have little,

Cash I have even less,

Friends I have few,

At our age they die they do.

Walks amongst trees a delight still

When legs have the will.

I have had many years to mere

Though years to come are now fewer.

But I do have much else

More valuable than all.

A will to learn still

That opens up a world

Of books interminable

Poems fathomless

Stories endless

And, happiness amongst the forest

Of musty papers that always do

And, more than that, not what, but who;

Enough is the love of You .

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