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The centipede by Glyn Hughes

They don’t mean much — your possessions —
anymore, nor will it be for long,
yet they mock you with their permanence:
more and more certainly they will supersede you.
So they become old-fashioned, your clothes,
your verses too, and age’s heartless
dawn that arrives without observance
has — one day you realise —
been with you for some years.
Physical pain is bad but spiritual is worse.
Though the soul is somewhere:
a hidden warbler sings. Now you understand.
the spiritual baffles you less now, and the world more.

But in one brilliant moment there is your own soul’s breath
flaming in baby flesh,
dipping into curious things,
puddles and leaves.

A small hand gripping your finger,
pulling you into the garden,
where the flower colours, though they burn small,
and the blossom he taps to see the snowy flutter
is that entranced moment that lasts beyond life
and might have come before it: an infinite
moment that waited for its entrance here.

Dig dig here. He shows you a centipede —
the vital lightening
that seems a single flame
of gold he’s never seen before.

And neither, you realise, have you.
What the something is that fills your nothingness
is not his showing you how to dig
but how to love.

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