To Men of Middle Age

Here's flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given 
To men of middle age.
Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale (4.4.122-7)

At the colding of the year, in the hours of bane,
The precious snow knows only to blow, to call
Out the scurviest tongues of alabaster pain,
Deep the thongs that bind me in their thrall.

Only when torrents warm to iciest rain,
Then shrieks can surely shrink to caterwaul.
Now while my tulips hide, my daffodils abstain,
My primrose yawns and tiptoes down the hall,

In my doorway stands, surveys the counterpane,
With yellow ribbon robe and scalloped shawl,
She eases me. She's not exactly like cocaine.
She pleases me. She squeezes out the pall,

She is April's lover. I am December's swain.
As a man of middle age, she is my wherewithal.

(First published in The Lyric - 2019)

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