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The Conversation of Graves

Soon to be the late, hence greeted as great,
I saw the poet by his garden gate.
A rough white mane, a black hidalgo’s hat
Were obvious traits, so I happed to chat.

In his ninth decade, and body unbowed,
His mind was rumoured as clear as a cloud,
One cloud crossing on its obstinate own
That mountain arena of sunned limestone.

Good afternoon, I said, and made some mention
Of his groomed grounds. A tenebrous attention
Turned, and a face like the crags overhead.
That he built the terrace himself, he said,

And gazed with neither a smile nor a frown.
“Afterwards I climbed that mountain, went down
The other side, and came back here again.
And then I married my sister, and then

I got this job.” Drunk on the quick-drawn cup
Of a soul’s well-water shared, and shut up,
I went to tidy, mop, unbolt the bar.
He went on to peace who had been to war.

John Gibbens

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