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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.





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