For Willie John

Barney Sloan’s youngest boy
was bonny and blythe and true
with kindness born of a simple faith
in God, in me,in you.
Ninety-seven years I’m told
yet it always seemed to me
that Willie John stopped growing old
about twenty-two or three.

He used to come in from the big old world
like he’d been a day at the fair
he’d always treat the children
and ruffle and muss your hair
he’d crack his knuckles by the fireside
even a rabbit might appear
and the music of his laughter
chased away our childish fears.

But time slips by so swiftly
all things fall away
leaving only memories
of sad and happy days
and of other things,unspoken
things hard to call to mind
things we pass to our children
to defy the wrath of time.

No tilly lamp in Lisnacree
no sunset in Drummanmore
will bend it’s light about him
throw his shadow near the door
but it comforts us,consoles us
to know,away beyond the sun
that Willie John and Lily
and all the Sloans,are one.


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