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Ninetieth Birthday

by
 You go up the long track
That will take a car, but is best walked
On slow foot, noting the lichen
That writes history on the page
Of the grey rock.
Trees are about you At first, but yield to the green bracken, The nightjars house: you can hear it spin On warm evenings; it is still now In the noonday heat, only the lesser Voices sound, blue-fly and gnat And the stream's whisper.
As the road climbs, You will pause for breath and the far sea's Signal will flash, till you turn again To the steep track, buttressed with cloud.
And there at the top that old woman, Born almost a century back In that stone farm, awaits your coming; Waits for the news of the lost village She thinks she knows, a place that exists In her memory only.
You bring her greeting And praise for having lasted so long With time's knife shaving the bone.
Yet no bridge joins her own World with yours, all you can do Is lean kindly across the abyss To hear words that were once wise.

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