Lesley Quayle

The Open Mouse

All the Bold and Brave Young Men.

When I was young
and swung my dark hair down,
sang first in smoky bars to drinkers,
thinkers, lovers, louts,
wore cheesecloth, denim, lace,
painted my face with silver stars
and butterflies, my eyes with blackest kohl,
rolled joints to share,
made love to the guitarist, listening to the tide
ride in across the moonlit dunes,
all the bold and brave young men
stared out at me from young men’s faces.

Now I grow old
and hold the present in a dry bone of light,
to see how it compares to ‘then,’
when there is more behind me than ahead –
I resent the genteel tricks of time,
the paradigm of circles, rhythms, distance run,
the sudden flowering of past tense,
a sense this body can’t go in reverse,
can’t shed this ageing skin,
expose within the shiny, glittering girl –
and all…

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