The old man

Isis Town and Country - - Opinion - By NANCE BUR­NETT

DREAMS this man, un­shaved and dirty,

Far from years when he was thirty...

His clothes are worn, his shirt is torn;

His shoul­ders stoop from wor­ries born.

His rav­aged face and lack of grace

Now marks this man the fates de­base

Drunk and lonely, un­com­plain­ing

He, from food (not drink) ab­stain­ing.

When money lacks for bed and beer

Em­ployed is he at mar­kets near

To scale some fish for buy­ers who

Then weekly pay some dol­lars few.

Dark hs room with roof leaks stain­ing

Shared by rats with day­light’s wan­ing

And crawl­ing pests that romp with glee

Be­neath his tat­tered rug, while he,

Im­mune by now to such ca­vorts,

In sod­den slum­ber loudly snorts.

Shunned is he by those un­know­ing,

Talked about in terms un­glow­ing.

Him­self he just can­not de­fend;

For speech his vo­cal chords but bend

To rasp­ing grunts. at speech they baulk:

With fel­low-man he can­not talk!

Years ago from work he hur­ried

Home to child and wife un­flur­ried

To find his home but ashes cold

And then po­lice the story told.

Of death to wife and child. the shock

For­ever his vo­cal chords would block.

Al­ways he for death is yearn­ing

Yet the flame of life keeps burn­ing.

He clasped a stroke, quite un­alarmed:

To his dis­may he lived, un­harmed.

For thirty years he un­der­mined

His health – still leav­ing Death be­hind.

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