“…all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusky death.”
“Fools” is a little harsh, but
he knew to avoid sentimentality—
try substituting for it
and you’ll see why it’s there.
I sit on my sofa and watch,
through the back window,
the new red leaves of the Japanese maple
stir in a breeze so slight it would be
imperceptible without them.
To be eighty is also a little harsh.
I salute the red leaves and am
glad that I continue to distinguish
their small motions, although
I understand that neither they nor I
have lasting guarantees. Other leaves
with their impromptu ripplings
are on the way and
my semblable walks spryly
nearby, casting his eye about him
for where he’ll live next:
it’s a nice neighbourhood,
the young family who just moved in
next door will have a settled look
by then, and standing in their driveway
they will explain to him
the street’s idiosyncracies.
The word "plangency" has tempted me
more than once but I’ve resisted it.
These lines may always have been
its long-term goal.
From Where We Might Have Been (2010) by Don Coles