He’s taken possession of the hat Van Gogh wore
to keep the crazing sun off his head. On him
the crown’s bottle green but its wide brim is eager
to soak up the straw and sunflower heat filling
the space behind it and look, at the back of his chair—
it’s having an affair with yellow. The huge crab hands
at the end of the sleeves—one’s viridian,
one ultramarine—are still full of strength.
The energy in his black eye ovals is turned inwards
maybe to contemplate his small future but he still
makes lines zip, swing into laughter, still knows
how to shape love, goes deep whenever he chooses.
This is old age not caring a damn if all its buttons
are undone, its trousers are awry, its bare stomach
in view, vulnerable. This is old men gone to seed,
truculent, petulant, their years, their knowledge
and experience shut away at the back of drawers
but pulled out at once for anyone who will listen.
This is mon père—my father dressing-gowned
on his throne in the Home, joking and kind with helpers
he trusted, failing to rule the others, complaining
about the world and its incompetent governments.
God knows what he’d say about the state we’re in now,
As we age do we all feel the world is falling apart?…
Those hands, I look again, want to take their grip into
myself—and the power in the eyes, the orange warmth
behind the chair, before I turn and go back to my life.