Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
brings the priest and the doctor
in their long coats
running over the fields.

(“Days,” Philip Larkin)

I stopped near the house
of my dead parents,
down a thin lane
pinned by the wind
to vegetable fields,
where unwalked footpaths,
like a map of memory loss,
searched for settlements
long ploughed over.

They retired to Devon
for their last years together,
filling the bird-feeder,
bending to the garden,
stretching laundry
across the wind.

It was a spring weekend,
days whistle-brisk
and bright as this one,
rain always around
the corner of the sky,
when we went to clear
out their cottage,
sorting, remembering,
facing their pasts,
and closer, our own.

At the five bar gate
where my father leaned
to watch his dog run itself
across tumbled furrows,
I wondered what he used
to think about. Was it
that I didn’t call enough?
My mother would always
tell me to call him more
but looking back it was
probably her I should’ve rung.

I could talk to you
about impermanence
but it’d be nothing
you don’t already know.
For Christ’s sake:
seize the day and shake it!
Shake it upside down
till all its bright coins
fall around your feet.
Gather them and buy
a slow ticking watch,
a suit of conversation,
a hat of laughter
wear them every day
until you hear those
dark clothed felons
running over the fields
so sure of their
Gladstone and their bible.