The Sadness Of This Afternoon - Poem by Michael Shepherd
The sadness that, this afternoon,
pours over me, settles
like a dark cloud, watched
as it descends, inexorably,
becoming heavier as it encloses me,
blotting out all thought -
where do you come from, sadness?
where are you taking me? do you have a purpose?
and will I ever know what you intend? do you
come to me, or have I secretly
come to you? dragged my heavy boots to this dark marsh? am I
to welcome you, as if some long known friend
who comes slowfooted, bearing an uncomfortable truth –
‘you won’t like to hear this, I know… but as a friend…’?
or are you some bitter enemy, whose only way
of stealing what I am, is to leave me flaccid,
wearied, slumped into the chair
a backbone without spirit, naught but sorry flesh?
or do you have a secret spell, which like a fairy tale
I only have to speak, and zap! you’ll vanish whence you came…
And look up there, there’s movement in the sky
and edging round the cloud, a rim of light…
or are you like a children’s birthday trick,
conceived with excited giggles in the other room,
a bundle made of old brown paper, dirty newsprint, knotted string,
which, shed, reveals some little gift they knew
would tell you of their love more warmly than
a shop-wrapped parcel with its ribboned neat rosette?
sadness, you shrank immediately I named your name;
now I’m laughing at you, like some old friend
who steals up on you, bored and dreaming in some queue,
to give you then, that gentle shock of love;
and after you’ve gone, sadness, I may remember
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