Walking a lifetime


I walked a lifetime where you led,

Trod in the space your shoulders cleared,

A silent shade behind your light.

I walked a lifetime in your wake,

The flat black shadow of your back,

While you walked, sun upon your face.

At first I walked content to be

Demure, a modest dove, you said,

‘A woman has only her looks,’ they said.

And walking with a man like you,

Who said I was a pretty thing,

Made me blush with foolish pride.

I walked a lifetime, eyes upon

Your neck that changed to thick and red,

I knew it better than your face.

When my looks fled from lack of love,

You walked with sullen heavy tread

And only turned to stamp your foot.

Now I lag with slower steps

To watch the changing cloudy sky

And listen to the blackbirds sing.

I walked a lifetime not my own

Behind that angry roll of flesh,

Slumped and gasping now you turn,

Your hand outstretched, your rolling eye,

I walk on by.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

29 thoughts on “Walking a lifetime”

  1. quite the tale Jane – from first flush, to the step into the losing of self, to deciding to not keep in step anymore …. well told and well, despite the “harder” aspects of the emotions, quite lyrical, but it suits nonetheless

    1. I’m glad you like it. I’m finding it harder and harder not to write to a rhythm even when I don’t much like the result. Old couples like this make me so sad. I’d love to be able to turn back the clock a few decades and just push her out of line.

      1. everyone has their reasons, whether they know and understand of it or not; not everyone hits the lucky one, such as it is ….

      2. LOL – well, you are you – and if your heart is true and well meaning, it’s painful to see crap unfolding, and not want to “intervene” in some ways … however that might be …. so I get it.

        At least you have the outlet to write about it … which may help get it out and who knows, someone may wander by and read the words, and something click and resonates and then, they decide to so something different in their lives, which makes them feel better …. anything is possible.

      3. You’re right. To think that maybe I was the reason someone decided not to kick the dog or slap a child or throw a tantrum about what was/wasn’t for supper, that ought to be enough. Small triumphs. Who knows?

      4. that’s more than something, even if the “thank you” is silent in acknowledgement …. so, yup – who knows?

      5. LOL – sometimes they are appreciated, but sometimes we just have to accept the unacknowledged, for whatever reasons ….

        hope you have a wonderful evening Jane 🙂

    1. I saw a lot of old couples like that when I worked in Paris. Old school. They’ll be dead by now. French women outlive French men by decades. I’m sure it’s through sheer bloody-mindedness 🙂

      1. We have them here. You see them in all kinds of places and in social situations. I think of the aquafit classes at my gym, for example. Sounds funny but it’s true. Outlasting has its privileges.

      2. Male supremacy is alive and kicking in every social group. It’s a shame only to be able to ditch it when you’re entering the final straight yourself though.

      1. Indeed not. It wasn’t the done thing at all, but sometimes it was the man who suffered yet was so in love with his spouse, he accepted the crumbs she sparingly gave him.

    1. It’s something I’ve seen a lot in elderly couples where there’s no pretence at all that the wife could have any wishes of her own. I’ve also seen it in younger and even young couples where the oppression is more subtle but just as sad.

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