As has always been the case, the World is going to Hell in a handbasket. Billions -- nay, trillions -- of Euros and Dollars are discussed in emergency conclaves. As if they were real. As if they were a matter of Life and Death. Eleventh hour solutions that are not really solutions are proclaimed. Meanwhile . . .
Five Minutes at the Window
A boy, in loops and straights, skateboards
down the the street. In number 20
a tree with lights for flowers
says it's Christmas.
The pear tree across the road shivers
in a maidenly breeze. I know
Blackford Pond will be
a candelabra of light.
A seagull tries over and over again
to pick up something on the road.
Oh, the motorcars.
And a white cat sits halfway up a tree.
Trivia. What are trivia?
They've blown away my black mood.
I smile at the glass of freesias on the table.
My shelves of books say nothing
but I know what they mean.
I'm back in the world again
and am happy in spite of
its disasters, its horrors, its griefs.
Ewen McCaig (editor), The Poems of Norman MacCaig (Polygon 2005). MacCaig wrote the poem in January of 1991, when he was eighty.
There is, of course, another way to look at things . . .
'I'm having five minutes,' he said,
Fitting the shelter of the cobble wall
Over his shoulders like a cape. His head
Was wrapped in a cap as green
As the lichened stone he sat on. The winter wind
Whined in the ashes like a saw,
And thorn and briar shook their red
Badges of hip and haw;
The fields were white with smoke of blowing lime;
Rusty iron brackets of sorel stood
In grass grey as the whiskers round an old dog's nose.
'Just five minutes,' he said;
And the next day I heard that he was dead,
Having five minutes to the end of time.
Norman Nicholson, The Pot Geranium (1954).