Race against time

Time was lethargic
In those early days,
Taking his rhythm
From a sluggish clock
High on the classroom wall.
He dragged his feet
At every turn,
Advancing Christmas
All too slowly,
Droning on endlessly
In Sunday sermons.
Only at nightfall,
Colluding with parents,
Did he hasten his pace
To get us to bed.
He was a spoilsport
of the worst kind,
Always hanging around
But not really with us.

He showed his true colours
In the season of shooting stars,
Never waiting for me.
Never looking over his shoulder
But setting a stiff pace
with leaps and bounds,
Like a boy out of school
Vaulting flooded ditches,
Taunting: “Come on, slow coach!”
I had no choice but to follow,
My feet ever heavier,
His pace quickening at each stile.
There was no pity in him,
No hint of comradeship,
And I knew that, in the end,
He would forge ahead alone
And abandon me gasping,
Face downwards in the mud.

November 1991