Closing stanzas of U A Fanthorpe’s “Growing Up”

I wasn’t good

At growing up. Never learned

The natives’ art of life. Conversation

Disintegrated as I touched it,

So I played mute, wormed along years,

Reciting the hard-learned arcane litany

Of cliché, my company passport.

Not a nice person,


The gift remains

Masonic, dark. But age affords

A vocation even for wallflowers.

Called to be connoisseur, I collect,

Admire the effortless bravura

Of other people’s lives, proper and comely,

Treading the measure, shopping, chaffing,

Quarrelling, drinking, not knowing

How right they are, or how like well-oiled bolts,

Swiftly and sweet, they slot into the grooves

Their ancestors smoothed out along the grain.

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