Getting On. A poem by Colin Will

In a week Jane will be 76;
three months later I’ll clock 78.
Both of us now in the upper quartile
or whatever fraction of population
we belong to, in the drawn-out tail
of the distribution.

If we were mountains
we’d be high ones, isolates,
human nunataks,
but we’re not. We’re flesh,
not rocks, and our tops
whitened by hair, not frost.

We didn’t see it coming –
old folk were other people.
We ignored those who said,
‘Act your age,’ because it felt like
whatever age we lived through
was just the place we were.

It feels like a thing now,
an awareness of vulnerability
to something outside ourselves.
We could lose it all, anonymously,
to a stranger’s cough,
an uncleansed surface.


Colin is a poet and short story writer from Dunbar, Scotland. He’s a former Makar to the Federation of Writers (Scotland). See his website here.

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