Today I noticed for the first time
A small brown mark on my left hand.
True I have been out in the sun,
But I never grow freckles.
This is one of those marks
Old people have on their hands.

I thought – or perhaps it was a hope
That I would never have
Such brown discolourations.
In my imagination of ageing
I had seen my skin wrinkled,
But clear and vibrant.
The mark was something
I noticed in the morning,
Looked at for a few moments
And passed from to other interests.

The day was full of things to enjoy.
At fifty I feel happier
And more vigorous
Than ever before.
Then, in the afternoon,
Sitting among friends
And in the midst of our enjoyment
The thought struck me –
Supposing I fall over!
Supposing I dropped to the floor
Right now.

I was with friends,
Friends to have wild fancies with.
So I followed my mood,
Allowing it to grow leaves and stem,
And remembered,
Though I had never really forgotten,
That my father had – one day –
Fallen over on his garden path.
Busy as ever with things to do
He was walking the path
Fell over
And never got up again.

That’s when I knew
More clearly than ever before
That I am slowly dying.
If I were a leaf on a tree,
The small brown mark would be
The first sign of Autumn
As change touched me
Making me golden.
Then I would fall
From the tree.

But I am not ready
To drop.
Though I am turning brown
There is something I need.
I have a will to spend myself
On my friends,
That I might fall
Feeling well
With the coming of winter.
Of a sudden
I see the face of Death.
I hear its voice.
I know it –
For we have met
Often and always.

Death has the features of
A child I made cry;
The profile of
My loved woman;
Your countenance.
Have I known you?
Then I have known Death.
Have I betrayed any?
Then I have betrayed Death.
And its face is beauty
For it is all things –
Undressed of flesh,
Unclad Life –
Without the garment
That our selfhood is.

And the waters in me rose
To tears.
Bathing me in regret
That I had
So often
My love
For the
Naked Beauty.

Copyright ©2001 Tony Crisp

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved