dedicated to the staff and residents of the Switzer home, Kaitaia

‘Hark, hark’ the dogs of age do bark....

never having been there
i’d always thought old age
a coat you would put on
when you felt the
time right
the right time
tawdry but stately
you having become
the beggar in a velvet gown
at your own door
something come back
from so far off
that was
always there
a childhood rhyme

would see myself
stood at the window
because i chose
to look out
from this point
of no vantage
seeing it
all astern now
the wake of those
gone, the journeys,
the mantelpiece,
hearths and
the friends who
have gone
under in this
life, waiting on
the next if it
their mind gone out
like a tide
i never imagined
myself with
my back to that
glass simply because
i could not turn
for my joints were as stiff
as swollen wood.

this coat
obscures me
and whatever
i was some know
me still the children
washed to the four
reaches and eight
points of the wind
you can only
lay out the things
once known before
them for they are
their own lives
and i can only guess
the chains they
make of them
or how
they are free to
sit in airports
and other cold places
of distance.

was there a path
i came here by?
it seemed just
to have happened
so very strange
that the whole
round of a life
just happened
my own life
no more than
a ragged knit
that hardly
covers my
someone else
once wore
this coat of age

and the nurses
crowd over
me with light
or is it
darkness in their
kind hands.

june 2010

Copyright © 2010 Peter Le Baige. All Rights Reserved

The music is from a recording by  by Julian Lloyd Webber and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maxim Shostakovich of Tchaikovsky’s Nocturne in D minor for cello.

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