There’s this life and no hereafter –
I’m sure of that
but still I dither, waiting
for my laggard soul
to leap at the world’s touch.
How many May dawns
have I slept right through,
the trees courageous with blossom?
Let me number them . . .
I shall be weighed in the balance
and found wanting.
I shall reckon for less
than an apple pip.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2015. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2015 was Ken MacLeod.
Carpe diem, seize the day, we’re told and tell ourselves. But …
The implied life cycle, blossom to fruit to seed, is a wake-up call. This sharp reminder of fleeting time is itself timeless, like some lost page of Lao-Tse or Marcus Aurelius. I want to remember it like a motto, burned in the mind like pokerwork!
In 2014 I strove to write a poem a week; they had of necessity to be quite short and loose. I wrote ‘Blossom’ in mid-May, the week of my birthday.
Though I’m a morning person, I always berate myself for not getting up at dawn, especially in May when the world is at its most glorious. So this little poem acknowledges that, and my coming to terms with my own transience.