The Limit




(The miserable schoolboy that was me):

 “How he envied the pensioners he would see,
occupied in their homely lives; independent, free.
If only he could, by some chance, heaven-sent,
live like them, he’d be forever happy and content.”

(Fifty Years Later):

Five years of retirement have now gone by.
So quickly, it seems; a blink of the eye.
The days are my own, to do as I please.
Why do I not feel blissfully free?
Am I not content with this modus vivendi,
that could now continue until I die?
Time to analyse, perhaps; to ask why.

Dusk melds into darkness, dawn into brightness.
No moment between delineates
these phenomena as separate states.
Minutes into hours, hours into days;
appears to happen in much the same way.
Weeks into months, months into years;
it is this that disturbs, promotes inner fears.
How to settle, how to take heed;
it all occurs at bewildering speed.
Sliding down a vertiginous slope;
an inexorable process, fears replace hope.
Fear of the moment you cannot contemplate:
the one certain moment that will delineate.
One certain moment that will occur,
and negate.

I have written a series of autobiographical poems about my schooldays, and how unhappy they were.  One of the recurring motifs was how I dreaded the long journey on the bus to school every morning.  I have vivid memories of looking, forlornly, out of the bus windows, and envying the housewives and pensioners I would see, who all seemed, to me, to be happily engaged in their daily domestic activities.  How fortunate these people were, I used to think.  Not only were they free of the necessity to go to school, but they didn’t even have to go to work any more!

Having taken early retirement, five years ago, I suppose I’ve been living the life I dreamed of, as that unhappy schoolboy.  So why am I not deliriously happy, day after day?  “The Limit” is my attempt at answering that question.


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