September of his life came soon.. Too soon,
From the respite of early retirement
To the knowing drudgery of domesticity
And rancour which was waiting and .came even sooner
He was so soon closing in the fences of his life
Like the rings from a pebble thrown into water
The rings were rippling in reverse
To the dark hole whence they’d emanated from
He was living as a much older man
His dress , almost Edwardian ,
His carriage , almost military .
But he was drifting into the obscurity.
Ever more surely into his own inertia
I see him give the keys of his car away
A car that bleached and faded through the seasons
And had weathered betted than him
And gave another meaning to the saying
- Always keep the sunny side out .
I see him standing on the pier
Where his boat was hoisted
After it went adrift in a gale and was holed ,
But salvaged by an islander , who knew him of old.
He wept openly then , and resolved that some one had sabotaged his boat
That it hadn’t just come adrift from its mooring
As so many others had .
His tears of self pity then
Evoked no empathy nor pity but rather an unavoidable revulsion
That made you want to turn away
But you knew his loathing fed the fire of his bitterness
Burn all the fiercer.
And somewhere in his soul he was himself
Stoking the coals , for some.. some inexplicable reason
How quickly did his autumn come
So quick on the fleet foot of his
Gold watch ,.. Presentation ..retirement dinner
And how soon did the early glow of superannuation,
Turn to hectoring bitterness, scorn and wrath
As if he’ held this cauldron
Of resentments and self pity
In a seething vat -all his working years
And now in the utter freedom he raves against their tyranny
Two gundogs dragging his feeble frame along the path ;
Doffs his cap in salutation to Ms Neary ;
The hairdresser , as she clips along;
Tight skirted and stiletto heeled
Off to mix her Monday morning tincture of
Of blue and bluer , depending how she felt - a rinse for old ladies ,
Going on bus tours to the Cliffs of Moher
Or perhaps a visit to Knock.
In the yellow bay window of the pub
Sits and sternly stares his cynicism out on to the street
As ifthe procession of his angst’s
Were passing by as if in some hideous mockery
Against him - but he out stared them
Each season he grew another kernal
Until the shell around his persona
Became so closed as an oyster shell grey;
the tectonic platesof his dark moods ;
Rigidly and remorselessly grinding
As he turned away from the bar in that bay window
And drifted further into the realms of his crossword puzzle
As the world gently waltzed away.
And the gargoyles and grotesques
Go by transcending and Taunting him
As if in a nightmare yet undreamed
The scudding clouds of November clouded in upon
His night ..his ever darker, earlier , deeper nights.
Wilting his soul..
A sudden ‘flu
He just couldn’t shake it off
Spotting of blood on his handkerchief..
And I remember seeing him sitting on his hospital bed
One bright Spring afternoon , ready for discharge -
Feeling all the better now ..
Now knowing he could be facing the worst
-Unless they know something I don’t know he said
Later that afternoon , I got a text out on the lake
“L.M had a cardiac arrest at 4.30- Not resuscitated. R.I.P.”
A friend brought his shotgun
Under his trench coat to the grave
And fired two barrels as the coffin went down
- the least we could have done - he said
And even the startled priest seemed to agree
I visited his grave when the may fly next came .
Their family plot was high on the hill
Looking down on the lake
- a pheasant bolted and rocketed from the ivy copse
A thunderous clatter of wing and briar in a blaze of
Red and orange and auburn
He soared up into the slanting evening Spring twilight ;
This splendid tumult then ;
Just as quickly swooned and dipped the on other side of the ditch
I recalled another glorious December morning
As the sun glistened in the frozen dew; grass; crisp -crunched underfoot
Biting sting in the air
When his dog sent a high pheasant over me
And I missed both barrels
Liam standing in the next field led him long
And tumbled the cock from ninety feet or more.
They said he’d have made the Irish Team for clays..
If only….If only ..
You see I slowly saw that it wasn’t he I was looking at
But me .
Oh yes . ..He lived and like it says , he died .
But now I too found myself sitting in that bay window
As the scudding clouds of November passed without a sigh
And the street with its myriad carnivals of
Gargoyles and grotesques
Danced so daintily but so cunningly by.
Forgive me -I should’ve introduced me to you earlier
But I didn’t know you’d get this far ..
And neither did I know when I’d tell you this .
Nor do I even now know …Why ?
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