Ice strings diamond Necklaces along the old plum tree, As I lie and wait-- For what? The world to end? Hardly. Yet, a world I know Is ending now, As I lie amid the bags and boxes Of six decades of life. For half those years I added my living To the jumble That surrounds me now; And, somehow, I Thought the years had no end. But their ghosts haunt me now. Good and bad, They skitter through my brain To remind me No thing is really real, Nothing lasts forever. Soon, I shall see This town no more; Its paths and lanes, Once so familiar beneath my feet, Will close, And I shall be evermore A stranger to them. Times here were often hard-- But they were all I knew. All my glory here-- Only emptiness now, a tiny spark Amid the infinite space of unknowing, Uncaring meaninglessness. Who knows me now? Who cares to remember when My name was a household word? Youths I see today Passing on their way Scarce were born When I played demigod Along these rotten, pot-holed streets. The wind rattles Through the ice-clad trees, Reminding me My bones are also made of clay. Why do I love this dirty, Common, shabby town? What is it to me Where I live or die? God knows. Yet, what I am today Lies locked in this town's history. All I know and fear Love or despise, Scorn or long for Lies buried Beneath this town's icy shell. The sweetest things I've ever known And the most bitter-- Both are here. Highest glory, praise and honor Ring in these streets, Just as do deepest sorrow And regret. How can I turn my back On all I am, On all that made me me? And like all other bridges I've crossed and burned, This, too, I cross alone. We are all alone In our deepest moments, In our most inner journeys. But my arms still ache To hold someone dear And try to whisper What it is I fear, While I see My life fading into darkness. So this one, last Empty memory I add to all the rest. It falls like a brittle limb To perish in the dust.
12/8/78 West Memphis, Arkansas
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