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You don’t know the score, what’s you, what’s not.
Remote ancestors return you can’t disown.
This prelude, this waiting for an encore.

Is that raised hand yours, this wind-pecked morning?
Enigmatic trees, askew, shake above the pram.
All’s perplexity, green reverie, shadowland.

By why this grandfatherly spurt of love?
Your skin is silk, your eyes suggest they’re blue.
I bend to smell small apricots and milk.

Did I dream that legend of the Angel
who falls to touch each baby’s fontanelle
and wipe out racial memory, leaving déjà vu?

I’m confessing! Your newness, petite, portends
my mortality - a rattle for you, the bell for me.
Hell, I’m old enough to mutter blessings.

The determinates of the clock increase.
Sometimes you close your eyes noiselessly, turn
your head, listening to music that has ceased.


   ©Dannie Abse 1998. With acknowledgement to Hutchinson, a division of Random House (UK), publishers of ARCADIA, ONE MILE, by Dannie Abse, in which these poems appear.


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