The Four Ages 3 – Water Time


[Part 3 of The Four Ages suite: Water Time (middle age, autumn/fall). Photo of milkman in 1940s London during the Blitz.]


Water Time

Midway this way of life we’re bound upon,
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.

Ay me! How hard to speak of it […]

It is so bitter, it goes nigh death;
Yet there I gained such good, that, to convey
The tale, I’ll write what else I found therewith.

– Dante, Canto 1 of Hell, The Divine Comedy

There is a third one here now,
coming through the flames.
There is a child.

There is work for money,
a tool box, briefcase, mask.
There is a community
of dialogue on public things.

I stand on a concrete bridge
over the metal flow of a freeway
near a wood invisibly etched
by an acid rain and a voice says
no problem jumping
if the life of my baby boy
required it. This is new.

A reactor melts in the Ukraine,
an abstract cloud rains becquerels.
I stand in line for powdered milk.
There is cold rage at the masters
and oceanic release. This warrior
washes dishes, changes nappies,
shouts in streets, waters planted trees.

The voice becomes a shaft
from the stomach as I watch
the rebellions of spring and summer
refined into a deeper anger
in the crucibles of grief.

I would this anger too be doused,
the greed, the distraction
of work, words and the worms of worry.

Where to draw such healing waters?

Yet sometimes I no longer seek,
sometimes sense I’ve been found
perhaps, but don’t realise it.

The fruit hangs full on wet black boughs.
The air is getting crisper, clearer.

Is it time to harvest the autumn crop,
light the fire
and listen to the crows?


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on October 2, 2016.

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