A Licence for Time
It was an old Jewish market
with veils and kosher things
and the yellow glory of gold
and an old rabbi
with a pepper and salt beard
who looked knackered.
He helped me with metaphysics.
I could have sharpened my pencil
on the crease of his cream trousers.
He waved to the sibyl of the shtetl
and we studied cabbala and old parchments
whose slalom handwriting traced
the boustrophedon lope
of lumbering oxen,
furrow by furrow, line by line.
He offered the chance of a licence for time
that could turn back a line of my life,
the most precious line of my life:
a widower stepping out with his wife again
down an avenue of silver birch,
choir-trees in white surplices.