James Simmons, 1933-2001 Irish Poet
for James Boyce
From twenty yards I saw my old love
Locking up her car.
She smiled and waved, as lovely still
As girls of twenty are.
That clouds of auburn hair that bursts
Like sunrise round her head,
The smile that made me smile
At ordinary things she said.
But twenty years have gone and flesh
Is perishable stuff;
Can art and exercise and diet
Ever be enough
To save the tiny facial muscles
And keep taut the skin,
And have the waist, in middle-age,
Still curving firmly in?
Beauty invites me to approach,
And lies make truth seem hard
As my old love assumes her age,
A year for every yard.
From The Penguin Book of Irish Verse, Introduced and Edited by Brendan Kennelly