At this tail-end that might unwind a longer tale
than I would care to tell, how vividly I see,
under the microscope's unfocused lens, the child
I was and, viewed through sharper eyes, I still may be,
wriggling on the slippery slide on which I'm caught,
none the wiser in this, than that, lost century.
Born with, though not quite silver, nonetheless a spoon
to overfeed my avid mouth - that I now find
myself your specimen is no catastrophe
perhaps, but I do feel a victim, and I mind
my length of life, assiduously extended
by right attitudes, has got me in this bind.
You find yourself impatient with my sentences
which start out one way, turn around and start again
most often in the middle; then, just when you think
there's no hope of an ending, suddenly do end –
but some place in the middle, yet again. A dash
will do, as in 'I must' – and dash I would, my friend,
if only... Slowly do I rise and slowly sit,
and those who face a working day each morning sigh
when offering their hard-won seats on buses to the
likes of me. Embarrassed, I'd rather stand, but try
as I might with smiles and all five feet of solid
inner pride, it's the outer me I can't deny.
As if I am an actor made to play the part,
and nature applied the putty and the grease-paint,
I walk out on the stage, an extra in the scene,
to no applause. Indeed, I feel I am a faint
shadow in the backdrop, something that the artist
tried unsuccessfully to hide, something too quaint
for the production that the playwright had in mind.
And so is this alexandrine, a rhythm slow
yet jogging quite irregularly, like the walk
of one unsure of how or where she's meant to go.
Wherever, however, it's not the way I'd choose.
Odds on, I bet my life that I will get there, though.
- Leah Fritz, Poem of the Week, The Guardian, 22 Aug, 2011
Image: Hanging on ... an elderly bus passenger. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian