A poem by Frank

There’s an old man who lives down my street

Who leads a very drab and boring existence

He’ll sit on his door step all the live long day

Watching all the passers-by for instance.

He seldom speaks, and never has any visitors

And with me he just exchanges daily pleasantries

When he is out and about in his garden

Tending to his plants or even pruning his trees.

Last week I plucked up the courage to ask him

To talk to me about his experiences, his life

Curiosity had finally got the better of me

I didn’t even know if he’d ever had a wife.

“Oh my you’re a nosey one,” was his initial reply,

But then I noticed his eyes glazing over fast

His lips formed a faintly ironic little smile

He was traveling backwards into his past.

“Son, I’ve lived long enough for two people,

For I am over a hundred years old,

This happens when you outlive those you know and love

The curse of a long life, if the truth be told.”

I was shocked and saddened by his frankness

And urged him to tell me about the places he’d seen

People he’d known, things he’d done,

His expression became sunny, a little younger and clean.

“I’ve seen the sun rise over Tokyo, in the land of the rising sun,

I crossed the jungles of Sumatra, stopped in Bangkok just for fun.

I watched sharks feeding off Bondi Beach, swam in the Dead Sea,

Struggled in the wastes of Antarctica, and sunbathed on Waikiki.

I once hunted lions in Africa, and once lived on board a whaler

Hunting Orcas off Newfoundland, though I was never a good sailor.

In New York I saw them erecting the Empire State Building

Watched cricket in England and even understood fielding.

I traveled the cattle trails of America, and Angel Falls in Venezuela

And once while in South Africa, I met and spoke to Nelson Mandela.

I visited Ayer’s Rock in Australia, Standing there like a big red dome,

And when I started to get old, I packed up and came back home.”

His face became sad, his lips formed a grimace

As a tear rolled slowly down his rugged cheek,

I felt guilty for pressing him so much

Me and my stupid curiosity, caused him pain,

He looked so old, so frail, so weak.

But then his expression lightened again

And he continued to speak.

“When I got back here, there was no one I knew left alive,

The whole place had become much busier, almost like a beehive.

So I just sit and watch as the world goes by, but I never forget

The experiences I had under a different sky.