The Old Man and the Boy with a Fife

Down along the country lane
a boy prances with his fife
hat askew and blue coat dusty
but piping, “Oh joyous life!”

Above my hoe, I wipe my sweat
and belay him with a smile
begging, “Kindly linger, boy,
and stay here for a while.

For my toil is long and arduous
and the labor hard, unceasing,
but your quick step and music
sings of harvest and of feasting.

And your greenness tells me of newness.
Your vivacity shines like gold.
Your freedom soothes me dearly,
making young what was long old.”

But the boy could not tarry
and he did not cease his dance
but bowed politely for a moment
and then on and on, he pranced.

I watched him in bitter sorrow
but also love welled in my heart
wishing him gentle tomorrows
as we slowly came

apart.

Two Old-Timers

a stately tree forsook
the youthful whimsies that shook
it strongly
in the autumn wind

and lived a hundred years
and more, by the shore
of the river where it was planted

until a gale came
that finally made it bend
into an embrace of water:

there they were content to spend
(two wizened, conspiring friends)
the rest of winter

Night-Shift Dad

Father, my father
Was a man of shadows
Who woke in the day when I was away
And who never shared our evening time meals
While I dreamed, he slotted and sorted
While I explored, he was a boulder lying,
A hard form beneath the coverlet.
I never knew him
Until he was old and gray,
Lame and wanting so much
For someone to talk to.