So, how have we changed
in not quite a dozen St Valentine’s days?
Leafing back through them,
my previous versions
are a hundred different people;
I barely recognise who I was last summer,
let alone when we got engaged.

Basically, how haven’t we changed?
Staring through the mirror,
Peeling the glass back,
I just don’t know
that third of a man
who, so I’m told, shares my
deoxyribonucleic acid, or whatever.

I, of all people,
could not have known, yet, honestly,
really honestly,
somehow I did know:
that the girl in the chapel
was the one who could and who would
upgrade my contingency. In other words,

Love for you is the one well stuck pin
that I have in common with him,
that blue-eyed adolescent who I was when
my one saving grace
was that God’s saving grace had,
despite, you know, me,
brought me to you.

You, of all people,
should have known better, frankly,
than to fall for the antics of
a teenage halfwit who wasn’t even doing a proper degree.
How the hell I did it I still don’t know
But tricking you into marrying me
is the only thing I look back on with pride.

And God knows I’ve been a pretty useless husband.
But God knows I’ve tried to get better.
If I have, and I think I have, I’ve you to thank, you
and, yes, the little ones.
You hold my head up, you and the little ones,
and, seeing now that there is a road,
I’ve some chance of keeping my eyes on it.

Stuff comes and goes; trees fall, habits change,
and even these hands and eyes,
mine that know yours and yours that know mine
will go on their way, in time, but
love, our love, our true, good and beautiful love,
our love that is not only our love,
is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

by James Walton, February 13th 2017

Where should we meet?

I reckon ten percent of one millennium
is no small matter
at any time
in the history of
matter and time.
An eye needs to blink
after all.

And this particular one hundred years
has been no small matter
though only time will tell
how historians will
reason and rhyme
their way through
it all.

You, from your black-rimmed spectacles,
saw no small part of it:
the sweep
and crush
of matter-of-fact
matter and fact,
bodies and souls.

Are you, body and soul, anything
at all like
the heroic, saintly ghost
I’ve made from
scraps of hard facts and
soft, soft
memories? To be honest, I don’t remember you.

Both of us know (or do we?) that only
– At the still point of the turning world –
is where, no, is there that
you can pick me up off the carpet,
hold me, eye to eye, smiling I suppose,
and do whatever it is that grandfathers do
to make their loved ones remember them.

James E. Burgess – one hundred years old today;
you were still here, today, that is.
And how that if matters,
And how that if echoes in my mind like
footfalls down the passage
which we could not take.

by James Walton, November 26th 2016