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A RICH MAN IN HIS EIGHTIES  

by John Grey   

 

You struggle to still be yourself,

what you see around you is not always a help

but remembering – that’s like focusing a telescope

that points inward.

Outside, the gardeners are packing up for the day.

You sit by the parlor window

giving those men their silent orders.

 

You really must get to work,

apply some paint to the walls around you,

fill in the gaps or scrape clean the old flaky stuff,

replace it with a bright light pigment

that will bring out its revered past.

 

The painting above the fireplace is an ancestor,

female, wrapped in furs

an arthritic hand

reaching out as if to clasp your wrist,

a gesture whose meaning is unmistakable:

 

You are part of all this,

just as we were.

And you, having come to this

self-appraising, day and night,

but ill-served by old age,

are too tragic for your own good,

be careful, or you won’t be yourself

or us or any other for that matter.

 

A car rolls into the driveway.

All vehicles are ominous these days.

You lean back in your chair,

surrounded by all that your money can buy,

and the fading of all those situations where

your cash just wasn’t good enough.

 

An immense house glutted with ancestors,

the sky now darkening,

someone at the door,

no doubt a greedy relative,

the kind that have always been there,

as night wastes no time

in taking down the scenery,

and stars shine, with or without your say-so.

 


 

Read more about John Grey.

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A RICH MAN IN HIS EIGHTIES  

 
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