NOW OR NEVER?
NOW OR NEVER?
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