Strangers in Old Photographs ... A Poem



I have reached life's stage of age in full decline,

when looking back, I hardly identify

myself and my companions in old photographs.

What shockingly ancient creatures we have become.

Time makes strangers of those we once were years ago.

I see no one that I know, though I knew them well.

Who are these so oddly young, eclipsed by shadow

of old age from blocking, interstellar debris

between the earth and sun of our luminous past?


Was I ever young?  Did I live another life

as child, youth, man, like fruit fresh on the spring-time bough,

flower, but a bud, all life ahead, now fallen;

dry, wrinkled rot and decay?  Even stars grow old,

burn out, fade and die.  All things do.  We must know this.

But fancy greatly differs from unsightly fact,

hidden from consciousness, battened down, denied

behind tightly-closed doors of the mind we rightly

fear to knock upon, much less unlock...crack open...

peer at reality's grim ghastliness

-- escaped from detention by honored illusion –

flaunting its nakedness behind never-used doors.


My brothers, the things I loved in life...trees, birds, stones...

would all look back, if they could, upon their lost youth

-- like eons-buried cities, civilizations

disappeared, silted under by indifferent time --

and wonder at what they were then, in face of what

they are now, and will yet become.  All life is lost.  

We are the living dead, alive for the moment,

awaiting our destiny, disintegration;

death and decay our destination...understand?


Do not think to knock upon this locked and rotted door.


Copyright by Don Gray


Don Gray Art  •  Poems