The Old Men on the Path – a poem by Edward Alport

The Old Men on the Path
 
The old men sat and wagged their beards and shook their heads.
We’ve seen dark days before, they say. Bleak days and cold nights.
And they pass. They may hurt us, passing through, but they pass,
And nine of ten we scarcely notice that the sun has risen.
 
I saw the old men and their wagging beards and mumbling teeth.
I saw their benches stretched across a path, a stony, twisty path
That would take our footsteps out of the valley to the hills beyond
Where the light began to unravel the darkness and the shadows fled.
For all that they have seen, whatever wisdom they had known,
The path they sat on, not one of them has followed.
 
And I could see that old men mumbling into their beards would never
Let an old man pass. They’d shuffle up. Make room and draw him in;
Make him one of them and their stories of old times, bleak times,
Dark times that never end in sun. What comes will come. We never lift a finger.
 
But I might see a child, leading us past; racing us past, leaping past, running
Up to the shadowy brow of the hill to the light that bursts into dawn.
To the light that shatters the cold panes of wisdom.
To the light that scoffs at the fear of shadows
To the child who leads us out of the cold night.
The child who leads us on the path to the sunlight. And I, for one, would follow.

Edward Alport is a retired teacher and proud Essex Boy. He occupies his time as a poet, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry, stories and articles published in a variety of webzines and magazines and on BBC Radio. He also posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

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