At seventeen, and shy as toes in socks and shoes,
you met Margaret, and thought she was ravishing.
That first kiss, while standing on the doorstep of her lips,
surrounded by the laughter in her hair,
made you realise you’d been
too many places ‘til then.
The world kept on turning around you,
but you didn’t notice at all.
She said, “Don’t leave me lonely as the bottom of the sea -
when I’m with you, I dance on the waves.”
So you told her; you promised; you gave her your word;
you said, “Margaret, even when I’m a hundred and two,
I’ll always come home again to you.”
At twenty four, when the War called you to leave her,
and dress in obedient clothes,
it was the thought of seeing her again made you breathe in more air
and kept death at arm’s length with invisible arms.
You sailed back from Dunkirk
in the smallest of boats,
which held just the promise and you.
She cried when you told her the promise had saved you,
since it couldn’t be broken in two.
She said, “You didn’t leave me lonely as the bottom of the sea -
now you’re here, I can dance on the waves.
I believed you when you promised, and you gave me your word.
you said, ‘Margaret, even when I’m a hundred and two,
I’ll always come home again to you.’”
At eighty three, she slept too long and was gone
and it was as though all your leaves fell in
one wail of wind.
You were caught between the shock and a scarred place.
A cold, absent-minded year drifted by,
and you felt you’d been sifted like flour - left behind
like a feather falling from a flying bird to where
past-tense sentences held her name.
Too many memories of her beautiful face;
an excess of smiles you could neither see, touch, nor taste.
You wanted only to be her favourite book,
well-read and returned to your place.
When the doctor told you how you needed his help,
if you wanted to live for a day,
you paused and you thought,
and you smiled and you stood,
and you shook his strong hand and explained.
You said, “Each day is twenty four hours’ more grief,
And I have a promise to keep.
I’ve a promise to keep to my Margaret -
It’s time for us to dance on the waves again.
I really should go home now.
(Yes I) really think it’s time for me to go home now.
I really think it’s time for me to go home now.
I really think it’s time for me to go home.”
released January 1, 2002
all rights reserved