For Andrew – Fleur Adcock
‘Will I die?’ you ask. And so I enter on
The dutiful exposition of that which you
Would rather not know, and I rather not tell you.
To soften my ‘Yes’ I offer compensations –
Age and fulfillment (‘It’s so far away;
You will have children and grandchildren by then’)
And indifference (‘By then you will not care’).
No need: you cannot believe me, convinced
That if you always eat plenty of vegetables,
And are careful crossing the street, you will live for ever.
And so we close the subject, with much unsaid –
This, for instance: Though you and I may die
Tomorrow or next year, and nothing remain
Of our stock, of the unique, preciously-hoarded
Inimitable genes we carry in us,
It is possible that for many generations
There will exist, sprung from whatever seeds,
Children straight-limbed, with clear inquiring voices,
Bright-eyed as you. Or so I like to think:
Sharing in this your childish optimism.
O'Sullivan, V. (Ed.). (1979). An anthology of twentieth century New Zealand poetry. Wellington: Oxford University Press.