How often do I hear that the years are just flying by,

assertions made, in the main, by those who have seen

many already and are startled by the sudden onset

of things that simply slow you down so less gets done,

yet not less than you would confide to anyone.


I think about my own struggles with the spoken word,

for example, those painful moments when, say,

the name of a close acquaintance, without any warning,

deserts all the towns, hilltops and valleys of my up-and-down mind; or if

a sentence, carefully considered, perfectly phrased and thrice rehearsed,

prefers to divert through some accursed darkness, abandoning you,

your friends and family – your entire retinue – leaving you

to decide if any of it can be used in some other way,

somewhere else, to some other end, another day.


I like to think it’s something I can more or less mend

but know that to regurgitate both recipe and ingredients

would require much more time, standing still, nose to mirrored nose,

considering whether my ten out of twenty suitability score

was good or indifferent, given I’m the comparator –


all before being required to stand in a queue

and wait for your appearance to confirm that it’s you.

I think you know that I challenged the (now orphan) idea

to keep us apart, at least for a while, to assess this and that,

on the ground that our uninterrupted association

dates back more than forty years; and throughout we have

peppered our potage in our own spicy ways. But I fear

when you do, finally, get to see me, I will read from your eyes

that you agree with the quacks that we must compromise.


And there’s only so much you can usefully do, save to

salvage what’s left, place me in a room with a view.

Others might try to rebuild me as I had once been

but that’s not for me, nor I think for you; the me that you chose

had the sinew of a tree, knew the difference between poise and pose.


So, while I might call your name from any location,

there is not the slightest, lightest breath or ripple of air

to suggest the call has ever left my lips, let alone arrived

at either of your (exquisite) earlobes or any fingertip.

And when our paths cross, the point is more than clear:

they cross because a stop would now be awkward, clumsy.

The modern way to learn again to trust and be trusted

by another (love’s essential staple) is to engage all day

in artless forms of superficial role-play; so, let’s play!


But wait: while I will consider any glib, pretentious

or tub-thumping therapy, whatever we do must be done now.

And while I am content to be challenged by the years flying by,

we know that what I have inside can quickly consume itself, leaving

a shell that nobody really knows, a shell that could easily be disowned.

The phrase “now or never” seeps into my mind, with its soft suggestion that

we might hold back a tireless tide if we acted now.  Canute was a king, not a quack;

he understood the stakes played and tempered his courtiers’ expectations

by simply getting his feet wet, smiling the while.


He was no competition for the waves, no demigod –

just a humble provider of complementary seaside attractions.

He would, I feel, have found the saltbreeze bracing, his red blood bubbling,

a body never cornered by age, a mind never trapped by deceit. And were a couple of

bons mots required to keep his feet in his shoes, il faut jamais dire jamais




Frances Macaulay Forde

Tue 17th Sep 2019 06:01

Wow. Loved every word!

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