A World Undone        

 
As he looked at the Sunday paper,

Shrine of the things that matter,

Where he had worshipped over and over again,

Together with millions of other men,

All at once he felt he was failing, failing,

Not keeping up with the times,

Not being one of the young.

And the thought was bitter, bitter,

Like fruit which the sea had bitten

And let go bad in the sun.

How had it happened without his knowing,

This ebb and flow of the latest fashion

Which brought him nothing but sorrow

Here on the stony beach?

He searched his mind for the answer:

As the paper spread before him

Its oceans of glamorous folly,

Into which he had often plunged.

Why should he care if the rout danced onwards,

The unbelievable boys,

The unbelievable girls,

Who looked on the smudgy page

So unbelievably sad?

Had he left a bit of his heart with them

As souvenir of a time long gone?

Did the world they moved in

Charm?

In his mind the answers clanged

Like gates that came together

Against the curvetting sea,

Which flowed between the bars

As though they were made of air.

But he did not trouble to heap

The sandbanks higher

As the sea came closer home.

No, it was not now their glamour,

Which shot through the paper like molten glass,

Spinning and sparkling,

Catching at every kind of light,

And making their celebrators

Drunk with the most apparent envy.

It was, he realized, something else.

Their sadness made him value them.

If only he spoke the broken language

Inflected with the jagged verbs,

As he had spoken on his own.

If only he could reach them suddenly

With the picture of their devastating sorrow

Which peered between the jeers

In which their lives were set.

How could they not be mourning

Over the loss of youth

Before they even knew

What youth had meant?

And suddenly he prayed

That God would send

Someone to make Him real to them,

These cheated children

Whom the paper world betrayed.