When he grows old…

DISCLAIMER: sentimental mushiness ahead…

I was looking for something and came across a notebook.  It contained poetry and story notes from workshops I attended in 1996. That was also the year I met Leon and I wrote this poem as a “love letter” to him.  It was part of a poetry assignment which was to respond to a favourite poem, which for me was “Warning” by Jenny Joseph.  It’s about a younger woman projecting into the future and saying she will wear purple and a red hat. That poem has spurred clubs of women who regularly go out together wearing purple and red. I loved that poem and I was newly in love with Leon.  I can remember staring at him in the mornings as he shaved in the bathroom mirror and could not believe my luck at finding him.  Right now we are probably doing the most difficult job in our lives, fostering a four year old,  and it’s taking it’s toll.  It’s good that we still see each other.  Even through this foggy moment.

This is what I wrote then, and if it’s at all possible, I think I love him more now…

When he grows old…

by Karen Butler, circa 1996


I watch him, watch his

beautiful Picasso reflection

twist and contort

as the razor

shaves away his youth

one sliver at a time


And I wonder

when he grows old

will his jeans

with the frayed bottoms

become tan trousers

hitched high

over a beige shirt

with a permanent stain above the pocket


And will his café-cappuccino style

become endless stories

that begin with

“when I was a boy” and will he

insist quiet people SPEAK UP

until they find themselves shouting

for the very first time


Will he point his stick

accusingly at confused passersby

and will his brightly

coloured waistcoats

become the same cardigan

he never takes off


Whereas once he played chef

will he attend family dinners

and sew the chatter into the

Achilles heal of each of the diners

until there is only him

a silent table

save for the sucking of dentures


Still then, I will watch him

and adore his Picasso-like reflection

dream of the picture we’d make

he and I, walking the city

him with his tan trousers

hitched high

and me with my purple tint

and red lips bleeding

into lines left from

a lifetime of kissing



About talkychalky

Teacher, ICT user, Thinker!
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