Bamboo: A Portrait

For V.M.F.G. – 90 years young

The bamboo cut to suit you from our garden
Has become your favourite stick – dried and varnished
Rubber-tipped each end. You lean resting,
Your knuckles over the knuckles of bamboo.

Your ankles are like bamboo, but your feet are firm
Though they will never know the stirrup again,
Your sunhat tipped at a slightly rakish angle,
Skirt and jumper chosen not casually.

Spring sap is stirring, the season Chaucer rode
With folk longing to go on pilgrimage.
With palmer ’s hat and staff you stand, a pilgrim
Who never looked back long enough to grow old.

Now people must speak up, but you are listening.
Your eyes cannot see far into the distance
But they look outward, onward, as you stand ready
To take the next step and the step after that.