The Old Boy


Grandfather was of a slipped generation,
with his Bakelite twirled-to radio stations,
tuned to his low-hums of orchestras,
and his wound-up clock, the western sutra,

its regular pendulum his hands-free baton,
conducting his lonely tea mornings taken,
until he rolled his guard-rattling Raleigh,
out of the garage, always wordlessly,

for his brief progress to priest-led prayers,
down to the hymns and those-that-care:
His trouser leg rolled, clipped, chain-safe,
he pedalled away to kneel at God’s place.

I re-delivered The Guardian newspaper,
to his emptied room, our in-house neighbour:
In such regular times I’d take a sneak,
a look inside The Old Boy’s suite:

His removed life lived behind two doors,
the only bedroom with parquet-floors,
in that other place, not fully his own,
his free chapel, there, prayers alone,

beside his shelves of impossible books,
Schweitzer tallest amongst hardbacks,
some with his dead wife’s dated name,
but no further indications of her ever being:

That forensic examination of his living space,
with my untrained eye, I made mistakes,
I never read well his folds or light marks,
which re-leafed books do often impart:

I now decipher those responses readers erect,
I am nearing his last age, and he gains my respect.


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