Another Birthday

Another birthday looms,
Though, at our age, we fail to mark it
In any form of childish celebration,
Unless it is a special one
That ends in zero.

We’re now too old, we say,
For that sort of thing.
(Though, sometimes, secretly
We wish that someone would remark
How good we look;
How well we’ve kept.)

For, though the years have passed,
We pride ourselves
How, in our minds, we still feel
Like we did at twenty,

Though running for the bus
Is one of those activities,
Like picking up dropped change,
We have consigned to history,
Proclaiming that we’re in no hurry:
You can sprint, if you want to,
We tell our young companions.
There’ll be another soon.

But, if we stall too long,
We’ll find that all the world
Has boarded and left us behind
And that there are no buses
For us to hail and ride.

And sullenly we’ll sit
Rueing our misfortune
Created not by others
But by ourselves alone
For, through intransigence
And curmudgeonly naivety,
We’re on our own again,
Stuck, waiting at the stop
While everyone has gone ahead.

So, then we’ll trudge
And grumble as we have to walk
Our painful, slow way home,
Meandering to our dotage.
Another birthday, then,
So that is it: the end
To all ambition’s soaring hope

And so we should, by rights,
Quite uncomplainingly
Don fluffy slippers,
Make ourselves a cup of tea
And waste our evenings
Slumped, recumbent, on the sofa
Sedated into dullness by TV.
There is no call for us
To be of earthly use
And all our get-up-and-go
Got up and went,
A while ago, into oblivion.

But just before
We consign ourselves
To the overflowing dustbin
Of redundant humanity,
We take a stand and shout:

Hold on, we’re not done yet –
For yet another birthday
Must just surely serve
To urge us on
And not dwell on the past,
Since one more year
Crossed out upon life’s calendar
Just tips the balance book
A jot more further
Into the red of days all spent.

And so, before
The credit all runs out,
It’s spend, spend, spend,
Must be our mantra,
Making all we can
Of that time we have left,
Though hours fly faster now
Than they did when young
And every passing year
Is more insignificant,
A smaller fraction of the whole.

Let’s steel ourselves, renewed
For unknown challenges ahead
And grasp that nettle,
Take charge and sail
Out on the oceans
Of possibilities.

Another birthday?
Hah! We fail to mark it
Since we have so much
To do instead.
Let’s leave those fripperies
Just one more year.

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