The construction of a poem provisionally entitled ‘Too Late’

first draft

Sad words,
the saddest some say.
Now you will go your way
while I resume, like stirred dregs in a tea cup,
a slow sinking …
slowly sinking.

It’s only when he lost it
that Adam longed for Eden;
only when she died
that Emma became much missed by her poet;
only when another shocked you into beauty
that I, like dust on a still day,
resumed a slow sinking …
slowly sinking.

second draft
When will men learn to grow old
like their bodies –
gout in the big toe,
crystals in the knee,
ruptured groin,
cracked rib,
neck spasms,
receding gums
dry eyes,
deaf ears …
only the nose … lingering humid thrill –
so that the ache of loss may,
with every distancing glass of wine,
resolve itself into a pretzel?

third draft
By all means, let’s share each other.
I owe it to you, Sister;
she finds you ‘dangerous’, Brother.
(It was around then that I missed her.)
You devilled her a puff adder,
made sawdust for her cages,
incapacitated her bladder,
bedded her by stages.

Three is company, says the wit,
two’s a crowd. He’s good with his hands –
and his finger, feeling your slit,
secreting glands;
gave you a bruise and a blister.
It was around then that I missed her.

final draft

The distant all-night drum, a dripping tap,
a scops owl mimicking the creak of sap
rising. Dombeyas cream the bushy verge,
a tilted Southern Cross returns the surge
of hope in every second Hillside house.

The world is waiting, trembling like a mouse
as you, unconscious of the cricket’s rasp,
in warm socks and striped pyjamas, unclasp
your hair, give it a tousle, set it free,
smiling at him the way you smiled at me.

© John Eppel, August 2012

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Diyona Joe says:

The poem “Too Late” was simply great – wording superb