by richard devereux
Now you’ve retired, they ask,
how will you fill your time?
It’s as if they know a sink-hole
will appear overnight in the back garden
and, alongside it, a huge mound of sand
with a wooden handle
(presumably a spade)
sticking out at a jaunty angle.
They want to know will I stand and stare
into the newly-formed abyss
or will I start shovelling hard
in the hope (of course, forlorn)
I can fill the looming void of time.
There are variants on the question:
some ask Will you travel?
or Will you take up a new hobby?
Displacement activities, nothing more,
for staring or shovelling into the abyss:
the hole is still there
when you return from your trip
or as you pedal the lathe, wood-turning.
I have a stock answer
that suggests travel, a new interest
and a degree of activity
way beyond the shovelling of sand.
I am going to climb Maslow’s Pyramid I say.
Sometimes they ask Where’s that?
The western fringe of the Sumerian Desert
I assert and then wax lyrical
about the dangers of the ascent,
the need for oxygen
and the mysteries of self-actualisation.
Devereux is a poet based in Bristol. His poems have been published in a number of magazines and anthologies, including One Hand Clapping, Drawn to the Light and Raceme. His great inspiration is Greece – its beauty, its history, its people.