David Lewis Paget
The Last Friend - Poem by David Lewis Paget
He stood at the back, and looked around
The church, not even full,
There wasn't a face he recognised
From his far off days at school,
He thought of Jim in the coffin there
Who had reached his end of days,
Then hid his head and the tears he shed
As they sang a hymn of praise.
The congregation had filed on out
To attend a hurried wake,
‘I hope she finished the Lamingtons, '
Said the grandson, Edward Drake.
‘We're lucky to have a wake at all
For they've been divorced for years,
I couldn't believe she'd put it on
But she even cried real tears! '
He didn't follow the mourners down
But turned away on his own,
He hadn't anything much to say
To the strangers Jim had known,
He'd said goodbye to his only friend
To the last one that he had,
The rest had gone on ahead of him
And the thought of that was sad.
What do you do in an empty world
When the last of those you knew
Is lying under a grassy knoll,
Covered in morning dew?
When your wife has gone to an early grave
And your son has gone, too soon,
While a daughter's taken in childbirth
Early one Sunday afternoon.
He walked and walked til the sun went down,
To the sound of an inner voice,
‘Why have you stayed around so long? '
‘My fate gave me little choice! '
His mind filled up with the sounds of them
Who had laughed and joked in the past,
They said, ‘We knew it would come to this,
But someone had to be last! '
He wandered out in his garden then,
So dark that he couldn't see,
But every one of his friends was there
Hiding behind each tree,
They called and chaffed in the darkness that
Their time had been way back when,
‘We're quite content with the lives we led,
Why don't you join us, Ben? '
But Ben sits still in his empty house
While a candle gutters there,
He thinks he'll go when the flame goes out
Sat in his easy chair,
He doesn't think of the future now
For his life was lived in the past,
And his mind is filled with memories
Til the Lord takes him, at last.
David Lewis Paget
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