downstairs, a world away

to that neighbour i like,
to him, to his old-fashioned clothes,
to his young man's body
trapping an old man's mind,

to him, i want to say,
my parents moved away 
from who you are now
about five decades ago.

in a clot of amber
you exist 
between ages.
musical, kind,
dogmatic, superior.
you remind me of another,
a friend's father, a clever,
controlling man; patriarchal,
mellow, oily.

i don't know you well
though you remind me of camphor smells 
from my friend's house;
of incense and incantations that 
my parents refused to

but you, i look at you,
fortunately childless, and diligently 
happy, preserving, perhaps,
an illusion of your father's life,
like i try, sometimes, to preserve mine.

we'll never ever be friends.
but at times we talk, briefly,
about nothing of consequence.
at others, with discreet superiority,
i talk about you.
i wonder why you're jobless
and have not married;
i watch your bent back as it dips to 
tend to the few plants in your terrace
before you wash the floor,
your shoulders set
somewhat righteously.

between our ancient neighbours 
and my young family,
there you are,
young-old, old-young,
holding on to custom and 
forgotten ways, 
odd, laughable,


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