The Four Ages 1 – Air Time
[The Four Ages is a suite of poems in four parts dealing with the four stages of life, i.e. childhood, youth, middle age, old age. This is the first poem, childhood. These poems, written twenty years ago, were published in my last book of poems, a kind of poetic ‘memoir’ also in four parts, Cut a Long Story Short (2014), available online at the Sydney publisher Puncher & Wattmann for a very reasonable price. (Support you local poets, folks! Support your local poetry publisher!). The photo is of my grandson Ollie at twenty months, asleep and holding onto the first balloons he ever got, for dear life.]
The Four Ages
The poet no longer goes from myth toward poetry, but from poetry toward myth.
– Zoran Mišić
Memory loves to go hunting in the dark.
– Osip Mandelstam
Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up
Fostered alike by beauty and by fear…
– William Wordsworth, The Prelude Book First, l. 301-302
I am near the source.
I am innocent and cruel.
Shining, I see the radiance.
I don’t understand clocks.
I look up: Oh that balloon rising
air within air …. Please hold
that string tight, Mummy.
I bounce like a ball.
I sit under the table
listen to the bigs’ stories
of the bombing raids
as I stroke auntie’s nylon legs.
In a dark closet
the little visitor presses her lips on mine.
Later she loudly informs the bigs
my kiss tastes like tomato sauce.
I spend hours practising
faces in the mirror.
I go to school.
There is a clock and a bell.
I learn about sitting still.
I begin to look forward
to endings: Friday,
this term, this year, primary school.
My writing gets neater and neater.