Old friend

I think we’ve known each other long enough

for me to give it to you straight.

You look like shit.


You move

arhythmically, as if you’re carrying

a fragile load you mustn’t break

(your knees are shot).


You wear

loose-fitting trousers, and a baffled air,

a man for ever locked outside

a door that’s shut.


Your face

is pasty, puffy – like the rest of you;

now everything that once was firm

is loose and slack.


You stand

like one expecting to receive a blow,

as if the weight of centuries

is on your back.


And yet

I feel for you a tenderness I never did before,

watching from day to day your long

slow fade to black.