These little steps and quivers
Remind me of my mother’s,
Yet now they are made by me
In part-senility –
Gestures and postures passed
Across the years, not lost
But, as if imitated,
Put on and animated
By limbs, and flesh, and features,
With movements and with gestures,
So that what was me
Becomes this parody,
Shuddering and moving on
In jerks, till I have gone
For something else to inhabit
This inherited frame,
The same and not the same,
Inhabit, inherit, give credit
To the little steps and the quiver
Linking me to my mother,
And all that has passed,
And all that is not lost.


I got you to count the rings – thirty-three of them,
Three times older than yourself. Not very old,
And clear on the tilted upward face,
Yet still mysterious in their gradations:
Some thick, some thin, coiling about the base
In different shades and colours – yellow, brown,
Darkening and lightening: as if they told
A story of their seasons and their time,
Still to be numbered, spelled out, and made clear,
Narrowing down to make this final rhyme.

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