My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
'Bed' seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears
They should not have left him there alone,
Alone that is except for the cat.
He was only nine, not old enough
To be left alone in a basement flat,
The unrelated paragraphs of morning
Are forgotten now; the severed heads of kings
Rot by the misty Thames; the roses of York
And Lancaster are pressed between the leaves
That one small boy with a face like pallid cheese
And burnt-out little eyes could make a blaze
As brazen, fierce and huge, as red and gold
And zany yellow as the one that spoiled
And now another autumn morning finds me
With chalk dust on my sleeve and in my breath,
Preoccupied with vague, habitual speculation
On the huge inevitability of death.
Unlovely city, to which few tourists come
With squinting cameras and alien hats;
Left under a cloud by those who love the sun
And can afford to marry – a cloud of bits
They did not expect this. Being neither wise nor brave
And wearing only the beauty of youth's season
They took the first turning quite unquestioningly
And walked quickly without looking back even once.
Sleepless I lay last night and watched the slow
Procession of the men who wear my clothes:
First, the grey man with bloodshot eyes and sly
Gestures miming what he loves and loathes.
Perhaps I can make it plain by analogy.
Imagine a machine, not yet assembled,
Waiting for her in the usual bar
He finds she's late again.
Impatience frets at him,
But not the fearful, half-sweet pain he knew