When I return with mugs of peppermint tea
you are asleep in the October sunshine –
a fallen golden birch leaf at your feet,
a last wasp buzzing in your shadow.
We have grown old together, ancient
in our ways. But age is a wrinkled
masquerade. ‘Old clothes upon old sticks
to scare a bird,’ as Yeats wrote, at sixty,
a mere stripling. We seem sole survivors
of our youth and prime – so many dead
have fallen by the way. We have made a pact –
and will keep to it if chance permits –
to die, like the luckiest of monarchs
amongst their treasures, in our own bed.
I put the mugs gently down beside you
on the low, stained table we have had for years.
‘O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?’
Yeats asked. You wake, and smile.