Poem: Nigglement

Looking all too carefully at something without form and trying to give it shape, when its charm is illusion.


I walk carelessly between fine lines,
    some of them drawn by me,
    but mostly they are sketched,
    laid out and prescribed for me
    by others
And yet I’m a grown man, old enough
    to be responsible for my choices,
    long past parental dictates,
    yet not far enough perhaps
    from the echoes of requirement

No, no, that’s not the word at all
So little is required of me anymore,
    the word’s shop-worn and yet
    there’s that nigglement behind my ears
That creeping up upon me, a stealth
    of something far less easily defined
So subtle it leaks away from description,
    but it’s there like a duplicitous thought
Something I’m better at avoiding awake,
    yet see in the nakedness of sleep

Expectation, yes, yes that’s a closer word,
    catching me when I least expect
    and when I thought it all lay well behind me
Like a long dinner, an interminable feed
    where the main course was overdone,
    but the salad surprisingly crisp
    and a spinach soufflé, light as clouds
Still an expectation of dessert
    and afterward a well-aged cognac
There’s always something after

I suspect it’s the something after
    that walks behind me,
    sniffing in doorways,
    letting me know its breath
    and ducking from sight when I turn
There’s the difference, in early life
    everything is next and now it’s after
Next is an easier expectation,
    a ball less punishing to drop
But here I stand, in a life of mostly after
Poetry Collection: The Smell of Tweed and Tobacco
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman's
poetry collection


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