HOW TO BUILD A MAN
Begin with a boy.
Make him do a number of things with catapults, insects in jars.
Give him a pet or the freedom to run along the paths
of the forest.
Next make him a man.
This mainly means increase his size. Let him forget catapults.
Ensure he has his first loss -- that dog or his first love.
Invent something like a wife. Concern him with the daily bread,
choose him a newspaper for reading on the train.
Surprise him with the news.
Later, lay an infant in his arms. Let him look at the face, fear
for the fragile bones that make the skull.
Other than this equip him with very little.
If you fancy it allow him to imagine his significance.
A regular seat by the hearth, custody of the remote control,
now and then, some idea that what he says is true --
will be abided by. Let him also think you're taking his advice
(his half of conversation) don't imagine he's listening.
Lastly make him old.
This mainly means reduce his size. Let him forget
the ends of sentences, look past you with his milky eyes.
(He'll be recalling catapults and forest paths.)
In the end just let him go.
Carry his coffin
-- if you can shoulder it.
Date of Birth:
Market Harborough, England
Adult Education Tutor
QWF Magazine, Tees Valley Writer, Stirring, The Nerve: The Virago Book of Writing Women (Virago 1998), London at Dawn (Metro Publishing 2002), Broadcast on BBC Radio 4
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