Run the Film Backwards by Sydney Bertram Carter

When I was eighty-seven
they took me from my coffin;
they found a flannel nightshirt
for me to travel off in.

All innocent and toothless
I used to lie in bed,
still trailing clouds of glory
from the time when I was dead.

The cruel age of sixty-five
put paid to my enjoyment;
I had to wear a bowler hat
and go to my employment.

But at the age of sixty
I found I had a wife.
And that explains the children.
(I’d wondered all my life.)

I kept on growing younger
and randier and stronger
till at the age of twenty-one
I had a wife no longer.

With min-skirted milkmaids
I frolicked in the clover;
the cuckoo kept on calling me
until me teens were over.

Then algebra and cricket
and sausages a-cooking,
and puffing at a cigarette
when teacher wasn’t looking.

The trees are getting taller,
the streets are getting wider.
My mother is the world to me;
and soon I’ll be inside her.

And now, it is so early,
there’s nothing I can see.
Before the world, or after?
Wherever can I

be?

From: Kitchen, David (ed.), Axed Between the Ears: A Poetry Anthology, 1987, Heinemann Educational: Oxford, p. 1.
(https://archive.org/details/axedbetweenearsp0000unse/)

Date: 1969

By: Sydney Bertram Carter (1915-2004)

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