I’m watching a bird that’s flown
dangerously close to the house
flit in and out of the fuchsia when
you ‘phone, terror struck, to say
‘twenty-five is undeniably grown-up’
which you always wanted to be
but now have doubts. Perhaps
because I’m fifty-four and anxious
to evade portentous dates
I drift in underwater time – head
in a book or out with the birds. Now
when I look up to where you are
it’s like a change of climate.
Too hot. Too exposed. Not enough
foliage. It hurts to hear about it.
I want to say ‘Regress! Come home!’
Send you Factor 15. My big umbrella.
But ever since your call it’s as if
someone’s swung a torch and shone its beam
in all the hidden corners of my life
or as if in one brief flash I’d seen
a single track – yours forward, mine back.
About this poem
Ageing is not something that suddenly happens when we find the first grey hair – we’re ageing as we grow and one person’s panic may fall at 25 (as in this poem), while another sails serenely on until 50 or 60 and then suddenly feels the cold breath of time on their necks. Luminate, the ‘creative ageing’ festival that’s on in Scotland at present, reminds us that it’s never too late to do something new, from joining a choir to writing a poem.