Winding my way well beyond cobbled streets
When a man filled with age asks me to take a seat
“Son, you’ve a long way to go, so rest your feet,
this dirt road eats your shoes and wracks your young knees
but go on, tell me, what is it you seek,
and what are the thoughts that you allow to steep?”
“Sir,” I said in attempt at courtesy,
“I’m not so sure where this road takes me,
but I’ve heard you must carry on despite the midday heat
and if I’m ever to reach the end, I really must be…”
and with that, I found myself unable to speak.
I saw his pants and shoes, they looked so pristine.
“Let me tell you, son, you don’t know what you need
and why move in haste when there is such a balmy breeze?
Enjoy the world and all there is to see,
and don’t make a move until you know who you be.”
His coke-bottle glasses made his eyes like beads
Lips, wrinkled from whistling, hid his pearly teeth.
“Sir,” once again, manners getting the best of me,
“How long have you sat, in search of discovery?
I don’t mean to be nosy, but you look awful clean.
I want to believe wise words from your patiently slow speech,
but I must keep moving on so my legs do not seize
if you don’t have good reason for your lack of deeds.”
With a smirk, he looked clear out to sea
and for a full minute, all he did was breathe
then, sucking air, he spoke in soliloquy.
“Many a year has gone by, many a changing leaf
since I first sat so contemplatory
but tales are often betrayed by a kempt, gray goatee.”
I couldn’t decipher the old man’s story
Only his face, between his brows, was creased
His boots looked unnecessarily heavy
For someone who lived life stationary
His shirt looked prim and pressed, straight to a T
He sat up straight and locked eyes attentively
So the young man stood, not altogether pleased
That he was delayed even a moment or three
For he was sure he must continue his journey
He looked toward the edge of cliff, and saw beneath
A smooth boulder that the waves had beat
At the bottom of the pile of the jagged scree
“Sir,” one last time, now addressing him like a marquis,
“You must understand, I don’t wish to leave you lonely,
but you lived your life, a young draftee.
You’ve lived horrors I can’t even dream,
but your life lived is not vicariously
and I’m not even as weathered as your poor sleeve.”
He looked up, his eyes red and dewy
and I had in my heart the greatest sympathy.
Without a word, he stood, though a touch shaky,
the disuse caused his legs to atrophy.
Taking my hand, he tugged me with firm degree
and one more time, he had the courage to lead.
The miles turned in to many long leagues,
the young soldier never once shivered from the sea-spray’s freeze.
A quick tremble as we passed each sandy beach
then the war would end, and it was back to reality.
He meant no harm when he requested I take a seat,
he simply hoped I’d return to the familiar cobbled streets.