by Alan O’Keeffe
You always threatened to make me pick stones.
I always refused. Why do we have to move stones from one place to another?
But of course, I end up fumbling through the citrus soil.
My gift to you? My sodden arms.
Standing in the unsweet grass.
Our soundtrack the birds and the never correctly tuned radio.
My gaze drifts, as always, to the far-off horizon.
You’re tumbling down.
A fall I suppose.
You’re mumbling now.
What? Help you stand? Ok.
Young eyes lost. Your eyes knowing.
Stroking the bitter sweat off your wrinkling forehead,
you refuse to rest. You refuse to tell me why.
Don’t go. Don’t go. What time is it?
I look at your watch. A quarter to six.
Others arrive. They know. They know.
They take you from the crumbling earth,
your gift to me? Your wristwatch and regret.
You’re a marble tombstone, collapsed on trodden earth.
I crown you with a wreathe of black laurel.
It’s stark and ironic. Weather beaten and grimy.
Too dark! It’s too dark!
It drains your pure nobility like a cancerous cell.
Bleach. Chlorous. Chemo.
I’ll scrub the disease, the moss away.
You would tell me to leave it,
age has done its worst.
I reach and struggle, I’m not Atlas.
I grasp and grip your wristwatch.
I pull you from the soil again.
It’s just another fall, I have no regret.