Twentieth Century Life

Dave Renton

Kid in school, your stories, your bright tales,
Colours so vivid, numbers upped after,
Laughs were never your forte, but wonder:
Gold, purple, red, impossible changes,
Shaggy dog tales, bravery, thousands lined
Because if life is so grey, miserable
A little embellishment does no harm.

Grown, you learned to walk circlewise
Fleeing the typed-in cramps in your wrist,
The bags below your eyes from days apart.
Crabs cross the beach - you said - from left to right.
Your travel began rather at the end:
A house-relearned, a problem newly seen.
Yellow dash between tarmac.  New begun.

Older now, without irony,
If poetry died after '45
Still more did jokes.  Instead necessary
Waiting, the cold, careful reading of signs.
Friends forced to move, their homes burned out at night
Families met after, the father dead.
You wait, you warn: your enemies prepare.