School days

School days

This is the great mystery
         that we are cinders ash dust
We take comfort from beauty
         but beauty passes :
just as the rose fades
         the skin shows its age
the muscles grow slack
         the eyes gradually lose focus
and no matter how much we struggle
         the slope is always downwards
a river that runs to the sea

An old man in a tattered coat
         carrying an ash cane passes by
the old schoolroom
         where first lessons were learnt
chalk on slate
         and raffia mats

Young hearts and minds
         now fill the space
their lively chatter echoes
         through the air
and in the playgrounds
         their hop and skip
proclaims the innnocent assumption
         that they will live for ever

In my hand I have held
         sharp fragments of flint
and wondered at the lives
         of those who shaped them
The hardness of that stone
         and the softness of love
immutable stone in the warm hand
         of enduring love

John Lyons


 

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