Yeats and I. And you

Yes, I am, familiar with that poem
Too acquainted, actually – with its sadness:
it was in the time – when we were… Over
I, then, not much older than you now.
You, then, with sixteen magical years of youth.  Ahead

It was a bookstore in Braintree
Christmastime upon us
some celebrating another joyful birth of baby Jesus
others surrounded by, surrendering to, the fading of the light

Streets and parking lots slick and shiny
sporadic snowflakes that could barely last a moment
would not last the night
It was my first time to pick up Yeats.  A blessing.  A curse.

What calls us to one page or another?
What punishment was I deserving of – that the page fell
to “When You Are Old”?
There between narrow rows of books
What had drawn me to that holiday crowded space
of isolation and aloneness?

Tears fell to that page quenching no fires
falling to my knees 
in the aisle
love and loss, the beauty of his words working me over.
Assaulted and left behind in that literary alley

I read, felt our futures unfolding,
separately.
Me, gone to the stars
you, in later years, sitting alone by the grates and bars of the fire
In no need of me, no memory of me.

What solace is found in knowing I loved you
That I saw in you all that others did not, could not
What warmth will that bring me out here
among these others, 
we cold heavenly lights on a winter’s night.

JL Grady
19 October 2023