‘The time’s become fleeting and flying,
And rushing me off to the grave,’
Or so would say Roderick Styling,
‘It’s sweeping me on like a wave.’
I found his remarks so depressing
I’d walk on the side of the street
Where I knew he wouldn’t be walking,
On hearing the sound of his feet.
He’d corner me back in the office,
Unburden his pure misery,
Or catch me in field or in coppice,
To tell me his bleak history.
For often I’d find he was waiting
Wherever he shouldn’t have been,
I found that I couldn’t avoid him,
His whispers and chatter obscene.
‘We’ve only one life, so enjoy it,’
I’d counter, when he would begin,
But then he would start to destroy it,
By saying that life became grim.
‘The older you get, so the faster,
It races along like a train,
Is headed for certain disaster,
The end of the journey is pain.’
Then he seemed to age by the minute,
His skin became wrinkled and worn,
Despair, he would seem to dive in it,
And had since the day he was born.
‘You’ll not do yourself any favours,’
I’d say, ‘when it hangs on each breath,
For life will not gift what it savours,
If you’re so determined on death.’
But one day I looked in the mirror,
And saw what I never had seen,
The markings of age, like a river,
Were flowing, where once youth had been.
I tried to ignore it by sighing
That ageing was lending me grace,
But I could see Roderick Styling
Was staring right back in my face.
And that’s when I knew life was fleeting
I had to seize what there was left,
I sent him a note for a meeting
While I was still feeling bereft.
He lies in a grave in a coppice
A jagged hole under his jaw,
While I work alone, in the office,
He’d got what he’d been looking for.
David Lewis Paget