You would be in your armchair
steel tea glass in hand, a book or two on the armrest,
legs crossed in dayless leisure.
I would arrive,
smelling of chalk dust and skipped homework,
clutching an Asterix adventure,
yet another disappointment.
It had happened again.
My Caesar was great,
but Gaul was greater.
Druids in white, fat men in stripes,
valour in a droopy moustache,
what could a poor emperor do?
Oh how it must have amused you,
the rigid disbelief of this brash schoolboy
who worshipped Caesar just because
lines from a school play rippled in his blood,
"Friends, Romans, Countrymen..."
You would commiserate
and generously hand over the next volume,
impishly fostering hope.
Perhaps this time, I would say, perhaps,
and you would grin.
And the cycle would repeat itself.
The truth found its way to me, eventually,
far away from your armchair
yet your wisdom stays with me,
an old man's mischief.
I heard yesterday
that you had passed away.
I wanted to come back to you
and borrow books from you again,
to walk past the tree in your front yard
that grew fearlessly across the stairs,
to sit silently waiting for you to look up from your page,
to sneak greedy glances at your library
until the book finally came out of the shelf
accompanied by the magic words
(delivered with a faux sternness and a wagging forefinger)
"No food or milk near it, no creases."
That was it, our secret adventure,
the life inside of us we can never lose
all those evenings
our foreheads pressed up against
the window of childhood,
I, in a hurry to leave mine behind,
you, eagerly reaching out for yours.