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At The Last Watch

At The Last Watch

2 mins 99 2 mins 99

Pity, in place of love,

That pettiest of gifts,

Is but a sugar-coating over neglect.

Any passerby can make a gift of it

To a street beggar,

Only to forget the moment the first corner is turned.

I had not hoped for anything more that day.

You left during the last watch of night.

I had hoped you would say goodbye,

Just say 'Adieu' before going away,

What you had said another day,

What I shall never hear again.

In their place, just that one word,

Bound by the thin fabric of a little compassion

Would even that have been too much for you to bear?

When I first awoke from sleep

My heart fluttered with fear

Lest the time had been over.

I rushed out of bed.

The distant church clock chimed half past twelve

I sat waiting near the door of my room

Resting my head against it,

Facing the porch through which you would come out.

Even that tiniest of chances

Was snatched away by fate from hapless me;

I fell asleep

Shortly before you left.

Perhaps you cast a sidelong glance

At my reclining body

Like a broken boat left high and dry.

Perhaps you walked away with care

Lest you wake me up.

Awaking with a start I knew at once

That my vigil had been wasted

I realised, what was to go went away in a moment,

What was to stay behind stayed on

For all time.

Silence everywhere

Like that of a birds' nest bereft of birds

On the bough of a songless tree.

With the lifeless light of the waning moon was now blended

The pallor of dawn

Spreading itself over the greyness of my empty life.

I walked towards your bedroom

For no reason.

Outside the door

Burnt a smoky lantern covered with soot,

The porch smelt of the smouldering wick.

Over the abandoned bed the flaps of the rolled-up mosquito-net

Fluttered a little in the breeze.

Seen in the sky outside through the window

Was the morning star,

Witness of all sleepless people

Bereft of hope.

Suddenly I found you had left behind by mistake

Your gold-mounted ivory walking stick.

If there were time, I thought,

You might come back from the station to look for it,

But not because

You had not seen me before going away. 

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