The Last Smile
David William Paley
The bough that bent beneath the leaf
And was with blossom crowned
Has cast its burden with relief
To lie rejected on the ground.
Summer sun has changed to rain
And floating leaves astride the wind
Seek distant graves in far terrain
Where Time embraces every friend.
The clock has slowly climbed the hour
And rung the chimes of change
To, then, descend at loss of power
And life for death exchange.
The year has grown from infant child
And feasted at the store of plenty
But has retired from battles wild
To yield to young and twenty.
Flower bells have ceased to ring,
Their duty done and well performed.
They waved throughout our spring
To hold us both transformed
But lived with us for just a while
Until the last remaining glow
Displayed the twinkle of a smile
And fell upon the earth below.
For time will pass and all must fade
And none can choose the parting date
Still less the rules of birth evade
Though we resist the hand of fate.
We joined our paths and walked the course
To wander through the maze bemused
Aware that we must yield to force
Dissent denied, appeals refused.
Our private lives were spent alone
Without display to open view;
And vows we swore remain our own
Divulged to none beyond we two.
Those firmly anchored thoughts of old
Stay precious gifts in memory's store
Cherished, still, although untold,
Filed away for evermore:
The morning blush on waving flowers;
A beam of sun upon a tree;
Dear, remembered, magic hours
That you have shared with me;
Shrinking smiles from bashful girls
And roses plucked by gods above
Together with the finest pearls
Crammed in baskets full of love.
Our music drifts from darkened shores
Borne upon the ocean swells
But all the notes we heard before
Are now the tolls of sunken bells;
And waters sent from tropic isles
Bring hymns of fond farewells
To wash upon our lonely souls
Drowned beneath the funeral knells.
A voice floats up amid the tears
To whisper gently on the breeze
And wafts across the barren years
To greet me, still, with wistful ease.
Glances from remembered eyes
Are sent to me from coral seas
And echoes of our ardent sighs
Answer my imploring pleas.
I hear the song of autumn birds
That flit through beechwood mast
Proclaim a requiem for words
To break the silence of the past.
Long lost are those once crowded leaves
But not the bonds that none can sever
When you, for whom your lover grieves,
Live on through winter frost forever.
Your crystal star that greets the night
Blazes from another world
To shine with an imploring light
Upon the flags now sadly furled.
The grieving branch in silent cries
Stirs the warmth within my heart
Confirming love that never dies
Although we live so far apart.
© David William Paley