Douglas W. Gray

The days of our age are threescore years and ten. (Psalms 90:10)

To over-egg the cuddly pudding, all this in excelsis —
how he'd smile under rascal sapphires, come sleep
all tantrum and tears; from that carpet crawl
to a picture building blocks in the formative years,
hair like briars and a face from above.

The bairn, it was said, had potential.
Toddling home with a satchel full of dream
earned a kick in the pants for the swot,
who learned that playground sticks and stones
were no match for the armour of old clothes

and Camelot, hacking at thistles with a wooden Excalibur.
But it was books he bled from; books!
Torn in warfare, he'd set toy soldier limbs,
with patient look the dog was dressed in splints
from a spirit that would supervene anatomy,

and knew (tapping my ankle bone) cranium to talus,
our musculature, all those Latin in betweens —
pulmonary arteries, principal veins, I was at pains,
lost, yet learning my own being, whose soft machinery
served to make him tick... Like adrenalin the highers,

an August of straight A's. But these days I'm lifeless
from thinking, a thief in the heart and shaking from drink
as I edit, rubbing out that night, when uniform-smug
took a wrong look in a downtown light,
where Sheffield steel tore the guts from a marriage.