Patrick Dennis


To M


My memories are yesterday in the fern place
under the great convent house at Clermont,
going out for the last time from the lash
and curse of nuns. Unrehearsed, you come to me
hand outheld with my maroon Onoto pen.
'You forgot this' you said. 'Thanks' I said
and was gone.

A boy has tidings of manhood at twelve
long before he's able to play his own scripts
and scenes of heroes. At twelve his spirit stirs
to fret awake- - -well, no mind. A scene, I say,
at twelve scripts for otherworlds - and girls.

Thus in the week before my fern-place exit
(the languor of year's end having deformed
the discipline of nuns) I remember
lying midday on my dormitory bed
and you sitting at my feet building me a man
from the play-treasure of your heart.
Before that we passed - do you think? -
perhaps four years without a touch or glance;
no, barely a word. You and I were just once met
and the stunted goodbye forty-one years ago.

Oh, I have a great memory for trivia, it's true.
I take all my life and meaning from it.
I build to greatness on small things.
Now a random goodbye echoes back
along the corridors of a bruised, abandoned life
to when you and I, never to be,
played - - played - - ah, how would you say?
A gentle heart melody, let it be.

Trivia now tears to the extremity of my middle age
and breaks to the memory of little things.
Now I have crashed down through the veil of forgotten days
to the father of memories. New born now
all my yesterdays remember you.

Submitted: Friday, January 24, 2014
Edited: Saturday, January 25, 2014
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