Is Nothing For Keeps?
the lottery of childhood destinies
Shuffling, patiently waiting,
the Young sisters, Doris and Yvonne,
looking silly in their pinned-up napkin hats,
dragging old, worn high-heeled shoes
hopping and clopping behind them, and
their wayward brother, Johnny Young,
who once dropped a brick on my head,
taking it all far too seriously;
standing stiffly to attention
throughout the ceremony.
And Valerie Bush from the posh house
next to the nursing home,
so unsporting looking demurely adulterous
on Jane Upton’s own special day
in white-edged maroon blazer,
red T-strap sandals,
and blue be-ribboned straw hat.
All hold an arch of birch twigs
behind me and best man, Michael Portway
who sports an old tin warden’s helmet,
"Your brother home from the front!”
Jane, beautiful bride, shrouded in lace
curtain arrives in solemn procession
on the arm of tall Tony Bush,
awkwardly patriarchal, self conscious
ducking shyly through the cruel,
And the ceremony, full of enthusiastic
muttering of “Will yous?” “do yous?”
repeated promises and offered suggestions,
followed by several opportunist “I wills”, and
the bride kissed passionately amid giggles and
hidden red faces, and now....
I see Doris. She never married,
lives alone with her cats.
Yvonne, has severe arthritis,
gets around on elbow-crutches.
Johnny operates a high crane.
Michael killed at sixteen,
riding pillion on a motor bike.
Valerie personally assists an EU Minister,
while brother Tony is a Wing Commander, RAF.
Jane and I did marry after university,
both of us twenty-two,
three children came along, but,
we divorced after twenty years.
At a work's Christmas party,
to my regret,
I discovered lying maturing inside,
the now primitive, erotic effect
a seductive scene-stealer,
once had on me.
(with thanks to Susan Holt)