Black Overcoat by Ian C Smith

When I fail to produce a return ticket to the past
my people look askant or slyly at each other.
I know my archness, puns, jokester’s life views,
cause their wariness of being duped.
I forget to think of kindness, their wellbeing.
Can’t remember sounds like a guilty plea.
The black overcoat of amnesia does nothing
to ward off isolation’s chill, however deserved.

I lurch up from lunatic dreams looking slantwise
to find objects in damned absurd places.
If I weren’t diligently writing things down
yesterday would turn to ash, no nearer
than the sad, enchanted days of a boy,
his precious tattered books, the whispering girls
sneaked past his stone-faced landlady,
the long shadows down her hallway.

Even before the drama of hospital diagnosis
reading what I had written seemed more real
than the details of what took place.
A Sussex churchyard, at Thomas Gray’s grave,
his elegy about ordinary lives famous,
my ripple of remembrance is without context.
Writing it fixed that pilgrimage in my mind.
My ravaged memory is now ordinary.

Enough of the past surfaces to remind me
that though my days must wind to an end
I have felt the rain on my face we each crave.
Above a green valley I hear the wind’s song
rushing past on my glider joy flight,
a memory like a scene in a film.
I shrug reverie, hunt down fugitive glasses,
write about my mind’s windmills

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