Cannot Stay, a story poem

Lucidity Lamb Photography

The old man whispered from the dark,

Shadows hiding his intent.

He urged the youth to embark.

With palsied voice, hear what he said.

“Come you to the water’s edge.

Come you to the line of trees.

Come you step beyond the hedge.

Think you ready now to leave.

“Grown men dream of freedom lost.

Women of their wildest days.

Boys they wish to pay no cost.

Girls to finally have their say.”

The youth was not one to waste

wisdom from an elder’s lips.

But, they thought, the wise make haste

And this old man barely keeps his grip.

“At what price does your wisdom come?”

The youth asked in a voice unsure.

“My lessons for the day are done.

Must I also listen now to yours?”

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The old man, shaking where he stood,

braced himself against a tree

so he might wave his crutch of wood

and demand again, more urgently,

“Come you bring the dreams you’ve lost.

Come you give your life away.

Come who care for you and naught,

You who’ve never found your way.”

“But I’ve lost no dreams,” the youth argued.

“I’ve barely had the time to dream.

I’m afraid you’ve mistakenly assumed

I am someone other than who you see.”

The man in his frustration, wept.

He sat with aid from crutch and youth.

“Please,” he continued, “do accept

these words of hard-earned, painful truth.”

“The end will come, be you prepared.

The end will have. The end will take.

The end will come, your soul to snare.

If you’ve not lived, it’s your mistake.

“Do or don’t, be brave and dare,

or stay hidden home in comfort, safe.

Whichever path you choose, beware.

The end is not your choice to make.”

The youth looked ’round for any aid.

The man was weakening with every sigh.

Upon the earth, the man, they laid.

He coughed and wheezed before he died,

“Think not long on what you’ve lost.

Think not to give your life away.

No matter if you like the cost.

Live life now. You cannot stay.”

The youth cried hard over the man.

This elder who’s last words were spent

on a stranger who could barely understand

or fathom an old man’s intent.

Yet set they out the very next dawn,

a new dream in mind, a new plan in hand.

If years and life are so easily withdrawn,

they will strive to spend them as best they can.


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