The Gruel of Time

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Chronophagos


He had agreed from before Time

To attack by day and by night;

To infiltrate, subvert, steal, or poison

All that makes me human, free, and whole;

I was his adversary, unaware, and unwary.

At first, before the shrinking years,

I laughed at his pretensions;

Flaunted my innate strength,

Ignored his puerile rant and cant.

But he took up timely weapons

Unknown to me, yet known to all.

#######################

They served him in covert and overt ways,

As lately do my fickle powers;

Silent deserters grown old and querulous,

They restrict me, proclaim him

My eternal appointed master.

And I? I give mute consent

To be bond servant, indebted

For my own chimerical freedom.

#####################

He grows more demanding;

I grow weary caring for his aging flesh.

He gives cynical praise to my effort;

But still denies my release.

We dispute and redefine the term

And the terms of my servitude.

My illusion is his strength.

He relies on my lies to myself.

“The fine print reads,” he says,

“that before your  debt is paid,

You will serve as my nursemaid.”

#####################

I wash his tortured feet,

Warm his rheumy joints,

Attend his phlegm clogged airways.

Suffer his remembrance of a past

Which was, and was not,

Go with him to bury and mourn

Those who loved us, or not,

Watch over his shrinking form

Past rheumy, crusting eyelids;

Remain silent as he claims

Even my own name for himself.

#####################

Shaking, I feed and dress him;

Stumbling, I wear his worn shoes,

And curse my devotion to his survival;

For I fear we shall live forever

While he fears that we shall not.

Yet sometimes he seems wise,

And not altogether evil

When I mistake him for myself

As we share the gruel of Time.

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