Olly and Tim

Laurence Lerner

Olly has a new guest. Uninvited
Tim entered his head, pushing his way,
Intending to stay.
Forty years I’ve known Olly. Who’s Tim?

Tokyo spilt over the plains of China.
As the sun set a million million midges
Stippled the sky. Leaf reached at leaf,
Overcrowding the elms, the beeches.

Flabby Olly, smoking, laughing, leching,
Won’t last till Christmas, the doctors said.
Pushy Tim, tumbling among his brain-cells,
Proliferates in his head.

Crowds of people jog and elbow and stride;
Like leaves, like midges they cover
The streets, intending to live for decades
(And the young ones, for ever).

Olly picks his last, wizened apple.
Olly fondles his last breast, tells
His last, sad joke. He hasn’t room
For all Japan in his crowded cells.

Look at that throng: so many Christmases
In front of them, so much room
In their heads. Oh Tim,
Move into one of them.