Poem: Robert Peake

Illo for Robert Peake's poem. Les Ages de l'homme (The Ages of Man) 1871,1209.972, AN451519001, British Museum.

Free Will

Breastmilk or bottle? you don’t get to decide
between the hard work of intimacy and plastic ease,
but weaning comes to us all and all too soon.

Biscuit or cake? the hallmark of childhood,
since sweetening the deal of your minor role makes it
easier to bounce between bullies and bicycle accidents.

Tea or coffee? the first question of adulthood,
since Lord knows you’re going to need something
to get you through it all before retirement.

Backgammon or bridge? you must fill the time left
to you by your offspring, smile rememberingly
when they enter, and wave when they depart.

Oak or cedar? you can decide if you like,
or if the whole business makes you squeamish, defer
to the next in line, and await further questioning.
Robert Peake is an American-born poet living near London. He created the Transatlantic Poetry series, bringing poets together for live online readings and conversations. His film-poems have been widely screened in the US and Europe. His collection The Knowledge is available from Nine Arches Press.

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