Photo: Bevan Christie
On my 70th birthday
Cocooned in dressing-gown with tea and book;
The Winter sun’s pale rectangles where once,
Not long ago, bright Summer’s edges keen
Gave clear delineation to the shape of life.
So now the pages, words no longer galvanize:
Where once I lived the battles, loves and deaths
I read; I see them now as from afar:
Things dreamed of, not experienced, not mine.
So my own life, somehow, now seems a pale,
A sad palimpsest, barely legible
Scrawlings, worn thin, of what it might have been:
Loves, victories, pain I might have felt, have lived,
Seen from a distance, like this book: the works
And joys of other heroes, not my own.
Nothing real now. The odd infrequent tear
Shed for some other’s pain. Why not then stop?
The end is surely better now cut off
Than fading out as blank endpapers.
Shut the book.