David Lewis Paget (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)
I’d only been home for a week or two
And Jeanine was acting queer,
Each time she’d pass the mirror she’d stare
And I heard her say, ‘Oh dear! ’
I’d been away for five long years
But she hadn’t changed a bit,
Each time I’d ask, she’d cover her ears:
‘I have to go to The Crypt! ’
I thought that she meant the local club
Where they drank and danced all night,
‘Aren’t you a little too old for that, ’
I’d say, and her face turned white.
‘You’re only as old as you feel, ’ she snapped,
‘If only, ’ was my reply,
‘Whether we like it or not, we age,
And then, we finally die.’
She put her hands to her ears, and shrieked,
‘Don’t ever say that to me!
You can die, but I’ll still go on,
I’ll be what I want to be.’
I stood quite shocked as she raved, she cried
And turned and ran from the room,
I didn’t know what to make of her,
So sat, half stunned in the gloom.
She’d always worried about her looks
Had made up her face for hours,
I’d said, ‘You’re really compulsive, Sis, ’
She’d take innumerable showers.
I said, ‘You’re washing yourself away,
There’ll be no oil in your skin.’
‘But don’t you think that I’m beautiful, ’
She’d say, with an evil grin.
She’d never married, but dated men
Who would compliment on her looks,
‘He said I’m like Cleopatra, ’ or,
‘Like Helen of Troy in the books! ’
‘Words are cheap, ’ I would say to her
And she’d fly right into a rage,
‘You’re always trying to put me down! ’
‘You’re like a bird in a cage!
Always fluffing your feathers up
To say, ‘Hey look at me! ’
Don’t you care for the things in life
That are not complimentary? ’
But she would shrug and ignore me then
She was vain beyond compare,
I didn’t know that she’d signed a pact
With the Devil, in her despair.
The weeks went by and her mood got worse,
She was nervous, I could see,
Her hands would tremble and she would curse
Applying her toiletry.
The wrinkles set in around her eyes
‘So much for that cream I bought!
I’ll have to go to The Crypt, ’ she cried,
And burst in tears at the thought.
One day I spied her out in the street
Down by a ruined church,
She forced her way past the battened door
And disappeared with a lurch.
I waited hours, out there in the street
To see when she’d reappear,
Then realised she’d gone to the crypt
In the bowels of that church, in there.
She came out walking, as in a trance,
So beautiful, redefined,
I couldn’t believe the change in her,
I thought that I’d lost my mind.
The girl I saw was only a shell
Of the woman who once was whole,
Whoever she’d met in that evil crypt
Had walked away with her soul!
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Comments about this poem (The Crypt by David Lewis Paget )
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