Octal

8
At eight years old, I get some sense
Of having lost my Dad’s esteem
Until that time, fair set I seem
To meet his fond, ambitious hopes.

I eat Wagon Wheels and Viscounts
Flavoured with orange or with mint;
Dad thinks I fail to take the hint
That my indistinct voice annoys,

That I excel only sometimes,
That I am no longer pretty,
And he thinks it is a pity
I read so much Enid Blyton.

I have good manners, try to please,
Make jokes and wear a cheerful face
Seeking to find some different place
To be estimable again.

*
I am sixteen, I meet some one,
I feel happy and desired
My affections are inspired
He is the desideratum.

He is articulate and loud,
Wears glasses and has curly hair,
I have not learned how to take care,
Then, like Keyzer Soze, he’s gone.

The laments of Dusty Springfield,
The shoeless bounce of Sandie Shaw
Remind me that he’ll come no more
And I must find some different place.

I learn to drink beer by the pint
My drink of preference is scotch,
Above all, I want him to watch
My reckless, raw unravelling.

*
I am twenty-four and married
A second baby on the way,
In gratitude, I learn to pray;
My wishes have been gratified.

It suits me to be a mother,
Though the marriage is not quite right
Birth and babies are a delight,
And I have reached a different place.

The poor young husband has been tied
Too soon to domesticity
Estranged by my felicity
He looks on, but is at a loss.

He and I are conscientious
Essentially, we are decent
Our troubles are only recent,
We last still a little longer.

*
Thirty-two, one of my best years
It’s two years since I remarried;
More babies – we haven’t tarried,
We have a fierce, needful rapport.

We are surrounded by children,
Games and soft toys are all around,
Outside, bats and balls on the ground
Where I tread with pregnant care.

The children are his, mine and ours
And the exes are in our lives:
Problematic former wives,
Encroach on a successor’s mind.

British forces capture Goose Green
I labour and next day at dawn,
In hospital, my son is born
And Pope John Paul is in our land.

*
I’m forty and my husband’s ill.
He’s sicker than we first supposed
For cancer has been diagnosed
The doctors do not mince their words.

Aggressive chemo therapy
And merciful palliation
But the illness’s duration
Is a little less than a year.

He dies early on a Monday,
His age no more than forty-one
A July day, a flaming sun,
But he is in a different place.

Now this big family goes on
With the heavy task of living
The loss is so unforgiving,
We never cease to hear his voice.

*
At forty-eight I am much changed
In widowhood, I learned to drive
And do what it takes to survive
Which means at last I have a car.

Another thing I have achieved,
And this not so surprisingly
Is getting another degree;
The love of learning drives me on.

I live amidst adult children
They have grown up so fine and strong
And, for me, lovers come along,
Good enough, each in his season.

Now I am in a different place
It is as if I found my voice
For this, I tend not to rejoice,
Passing men no longer look twice.

*
I have the habit of marriage,
Have taken yet another name,
But I have ceased to be aflame,
The flames are quenched, the ashes cold.

Work, friends, family, mine and his,
The whole domestic bag of tricks
It’s not too bad at fifty-six
Though something has been lately lost.

We go to classical concerts,
Often the highlight of my week,
But once, in the Pathétique
I weep silently and unseen.

The peaceful and suburban life
Is tinged with rue, the herb-of-grace,
And could there be a different place?
Or have my options now expired?

*
I dream of Dad who’s gone ahead,
The hour of my life grows late
In years, I have reached eight times eight;
In sleep alone, the clock goes back.

See how this poem’s a selfie!
I blog my blog and tweet my tweets,
And find that social media meets
My wordy and retiring needs.

Despite this, or because of it,
There is a particular man,
Strange, what with my being a Gran –
The heyday in the waning blood.

Now I am hexadecimal
A number eight is on my door
When squared it comes to sixty-four,
And all my places gather here.

*

Eight more years have now passed by

Three score years and ten and two

Shehechianu vekimanu

Vehigianu lazman hazeh.

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