Revelation from an old poem

Joy sometimes finds a way through the tears
The Top Hat, The Auctioneer, and The Lover

It was there at the old village auction
A decade ago, perhaps more.
Infected I was with the vigour, 
Vivacity, vim and some ardour
In the calm steady hands of the porter
A gentleman’s felted top hat!
The auctioneer eager for bids from the floor.

He caught my eye first;  and I nodded
All right then.  Okay.  I will bid then.
A fifty pence bid as he said.

Sure, I’ll bite then, at life then,  I’m in.

But he garnered a friendly pound bid 
From the far other side of the room —
On my next nod of one pound and fifty.
The gavel came down with a boom.
The hat was now mine — but oh why man, 
Oh why?  

Really, truly, I could not have said.

It perched on the shining brass bed post
Indulgent through  soft gentle sleep
A metaphor growing, symbolic
Of life and excitement, of vigour and vim —
A sense of a passion arising.  

So — maybe a kind of a notching
On the bed post, a man sort of thing.
It shook and it trembled, it fell!
Many times, countless times, every time
Through the years intervening, 

Just marking my life in my head.

The auctioneer, one day rememb’ring
Asked me for the loan of the hat.
His young son so needed it, twirling
Pizzazz in a pantomime turn.
I handed it over,  quite doubtful
It ever would make its return.

Life carried on then just as normal.
That’s just how it goes, don’t you know.
We all know.

The bed rocked at times as it happens
Though I missed that old hat for a while
Got sick, and got treated, felt worser
Fell into a post-treatment sadness
Got old, and then older, and frail —
My wife, my true love my true  lover
Afraid that our lives would soon fail.

And sooner or later, they will.
Sooner or later we’ll fail.

One night at a lively,  pre-auction meet
The auctioneer balanced its brim
On a finger outstretched, and he smiled
Your hat sir!  And winked.
Now I couldn’t  detail the rush that set sail 
The pleasure I felt, but I blinked.

I don’t quite know why, but I did.
Tears flow beyond understanding.
In a twinkling erupting through lashes
Before I can manage to think.

I wore it to porter that auction
To show off the dross and the gloss
In bright dinner jackets we porters
Bedazzled the crowd with aplomb.
The hat was the  crown of my efforts
It felt rather odd on my head —
A trustee snapped off a quick photo
I looked like a wax-work of dread.

Now it’s back on the bedpost so jaunty
And sometimes it trembles anew.
I don’t quite know why but I love it.
Can’t think why I do but I do.

To be fair as I think back upon it,
I love it, that hat, like the living
I have lived, all together,  with you.

The vim and the vigour, the spark!
That comes with it
The joy that we’ve seen on the way
The sadness we’ve had both together
The pain that life has yet to bring.
And I hope when the time comes to leave it

I hope when the time comes to leave it
I’ll pass it along with my heart.  
I loved it like you from the start.  

3 responses to “Revelation from an old poem”

  1. Larry, I tip my own hat to the Joy in your wonderful poem. Your poem speaks to me though my interpretation may go down a path the author dud not intend. If I could write poetry I would write one as a reply about talismans that are or have been part of my life.


  2. Hi back Henry,
    Delighted to read that you felt some sense of universality in my effort, which was one of the first I wrote for our Writers Group oh, 2+ years ago. Of course, the auctioneer was Nigel Baynes, who especially cultivated a sense of silliness. The poem’s rhythm is based on the famous poem ‘The touch of the master’s hand’ which describes an auction for an ancient violin. The italicised asides are my own invention. Thank you also for your kind words about my mourning/morning piece yesterday. Prose or poetry, words can really resonate, can’t they. Which is perhaps the main reason why we each write: to seek some verbal chord that chimes with our feelings.


  3. Stephanie Atkinson Avatar
    Stephanie Atkinson

    Thanks Larry I loved the poem


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