Memory

 
I still can see him standing there

In his best suit beside the door,

Waiting, as we set out for dinner.

The words that he was hoping for:

‘Won’t you come too?’ - they were not said.

Why? Thoughtlessness, a want of love,

Though love was all we talked about.

He stayed a moment, then his air

Of being bored, indifferent, broke.

Smart tie, blue eyes, his brilliant hair,

Somehow for once they would not work;

And we were going off without

Him, though he was our friend - the one

I teased because of his good looks.

He turned, and as he did so, I,

Who wrote of love in poetry books,

Astounded, saw him start to cry,

And knew at once what I had done.

I asked him then to come, but no,

He was not wanted, would not have

What he had longed for at the price

Of pity, and he stayed behind.

So we went off to some dark bar

And left him to his tearful choice,

Neglected, by himself.

                                  The mind

Can look for legends in the past

And gloss them so that everything

Appears to shine, but though I cast

This way and that I cannot miss

Him there, his blue eyes filled with tears.

O God, if I had asked him right

Away, the moment I had seen

Him all dressed up, his yellow hair

So smoothly combed, his tie so tight.

If in that second I had been

His friend and said: ‘Won't you come too?’

Or if I had to be so grand,

Then, when he cried, why was my arm

Not there around his shoulder? And

Why was not kindness used? Oh, you

Who read this, know that nothing hurts

You later like the love you did not show.

Always for me he seems to stand

By that sad door, and I must know

Always what happens to hard hearts

When God allows remembered tears

To beat them down in after years

And bring their self-love low.