I was 66 just yesterday
Some say what a fine old age,
Others say it all depends on your own life’s page
You are as old as you feel, I am being told
In that case 66 is not too old
I got out of bed with a spring in my step
And down the stairs I bounded
My wife, as a treat, wanted to go on a trip
To take me to a new Garden Centre
And so, I thought, at 66, that sounds quite enough adventure.
When we arrived (for we had been lost)
I climbed from the car and smiled
I will just take my walking stick, I declared
leaving my scooter in the boot for later
It will be easier that way for my needs to be catered.
But as we wandered down long beds of flowers
And lines of new gardening tools
My decision, I knew, to use just my stick, was indeed that of a fool
My legs did shake and my back did ache
And my eyes insisted I stay awake!
I suddenly found a surprising new interest,
In the conservatory garden furniture
Not that I bothered the salesman there,
I just wanted to find a comfortable chair!
To ease the cares my body now felt
This left my wife free to wander the lanes
And me the chance to ease my pains
Fairly soon I was joined in my lonely corner
By another man trying a chair
He smiled as he sat with a look of lost cares
‘Nice furniture’ I remarked to him
He smiled ‘Oh, I just needed a chair for a rest’
It was then I decided, accept the age and condition that you are in,
With wonky legs and a foggy head
Don’t be 22 when there’s such pleasure in being 66!
Each alveolus in my lungs
Is soaking clean air from the sun.
For just one hour I had been free
After that heavy door closed on me.
Gone the smell of prison air
Like the graveyard mists, who cares?
Outside the walls the chestnuts thrive
Extension of branches prove they’re alive
Withstanding the porcupine needle flashes
From thunderous skies the lightening crashes.
Never again will I work in this den
For me my action is decided then
I am going off home to feed my free hens!
Retirement at last!
I smile. I shiver.
by Michael Healy
‘Good Lord’! he exclaimed from his chair by the patio doors.
‘What’s that, my dear’? I asked from the comfort of my Parker Knoll.
‘It can’t be!’ he exclaimed slowly donning his glasses.
Engage him in small talk, I reminded myself. Don’t let him descend into droll.
‘What’s that, my dear’? I asked engagingly and lowered my needlework screen.
Is it that pretty green woodpecker again, dear’? I asked brightly and reached for a blue threaded spool.
‘Is that what you have just seen?
Or is it perhaps next door’s tortoiseshell cat again, dear’? I added and muttered, ‘The dirty little swine’.
‘It’s neither of those things you suggest, mother’, he said, without turning at that.
‘I am not your mother, dear’, I gently corrected, ‘I am your wife, Flo.
And if it is not the green woodpecker, dear, nor next door’s tortoiseshell cat.
Do tell me what you have seen out there that has excited you so?’
‘Well’, he quipped without turning,
‘If you believe you are my wife’s mother Flo. That is fine.
Nevertheless, I think your daughter needs warning,
That what I can see through these doors, is actually a large porcupine’.
Oh dear, I recalled with misgivings,
That his mind would deceive his eyes.
He would slowly begin to misconstrue things
And be apt to fantasise.
Gracious me, what should I do now? I wondered in alarm
And shivered as my eyes grew misty with tears.
‘Well! This really will not do, Flo!’
The words worked like a charm.
‘What is required now is action, you know.
You must make sure that he comes to no harm.’
‘A porcupine, did you say, my dear’? I asked
laying aside the needlework I had hoped to complete.
‘Just give me a moment, my dear and I will join you’, I said
whilst the Parker Knoll raised me to my feet.
‘Now then’, I said when I reached him to address his outlandish claim
‘Where was this porcupine seen, dear’? I asked with ill concealed scepticism
And leant on my new Zimmer frame.
‘Don’t think I don’t know that you are humouring me’, he scoffed with mild derision.
‘I have not gone gaga, just yet. Mark you.
Mere minutes ago I was watching that confounded pigeon
When blow me, if a porcupine didn’t suddenly hove into view!
It came from beneath next door’s extension
And has sauntered on down to the church.
Now, if you will follow my index to the graveyard
And look to the right of that horse chestnut tree
Confirming that I am not ga ga, will not be hard
Once you describe to me what you can see.
With ill-feigned interest, I followed his indexed line
‘Do you mean, dear’, I asked, ‘where the earth is still fresh and neat?
Good Lord!’ I exclaimed, ‘You are right. Dear! I see it! It is a very large porcupine!
Oh dear, dear’, I added softly, ‘I’m afraid it is eating your mother’s new wreath’.