Message to Saturn


wondering why or where I am on this weighted planet.

Breakfast waits
while I bring to mind the shape of yesterday
and my cause for tomorrow.

Light that once burned with promise now fades
into a child’s fairy tale pages,
whose favourite rhymes are yellowed by the worn thumbs of time.

Jaded by the world’s repeated spin
an aching stiffness plays in wintering hips,
bringing hints of grief to be shaken free, unstirred by memories
which clamour to be heard.

Saturn looms in wait
to hang new rags befitting of increasing age.
I cannot know the nature of the cloth he brings to me;
He holds his dim-lit secrets close.
I will not see till richest jewels embed red velvet robes,
or humble sackcloth meanly coats my modesty.

Yet he may choose to steal away my mind,
taking every gleaming gem and cleansing all the dirt of my design,
to leave me naked,
staring blindly through dementia’s whitened eyes.

Should this be my dusty fate,
if I can find whatever courage it may take
to face the kingly bringer of old age,
maybe I’ll be bold enough to beg one small request,
and this is what I’d hope to say:

Saturn, through the changing milky way, you have viewed my every inch of life, my ant-like triumphs, my small mistakes, my deepest suffering and my utmost joy.

You know I’ve borne three daughters and one boy, and with their children we have built a family that is more than life to me. If you insist, then whip away those cherished memories, and those from childhood days when love for mother reigned supreme.

Rob me of the lifelong passion I have carried hidden deep – the one enduring dream which freed my breath and eased my nighttime sleep. Take the trees I climbed, take my friends and my possessions, my ego and desire.

Take the earth and take the last remains of smoky fire.

Hack away the tangled rope of sanity.

But please
leave the one perfect moment that my life contained —
you know the one I mean:
That simian day beneath a beating sun;
a silly prank while in midst of friendly fun,
Russian-marching down the road, kicking high, grinning wide.
He grabbed my ankle, held on, made me hop.
Humorous indignity multiplied by unbridled hilarity
ached in my sides,
while occupants of passing cars laughed; became part of our antics
and I held a fine balance beneath a magic sky.

There in the eye of the mad storm of chortling glee,
I felt the peoples of the world reach out in quest for peace
as the earth briefly spun into line.

You remember it, Saturn, bringer of old age and senility —
who could forget the moment when eternity stood still,
and for an instant,
pain, suffering and death did not exist;
nothing remained but love,
and love was the funniest thing.

You and your sibling Planets froze in space,
awaiting that moment —
that quintessential moment —
to pass,
that you may resume

let what little I have left
be the funniest thing.


©Jane Paterson Basil


44 thoughts on “Message to Saturn

    1. Thank you, Olga It’s strange that if I go back on my whole life, that was the supreme moment when all questions and all fear melted away – or maybe it’s more odd that I felt it at all, in this flawed world…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. “whose favourite rhymes are yellowed by the worn thumbs of time…” So beautiful. How often do I wonder where those rhymes went… (This one hit a little too close to home for me. This week saw another unexpected event. My heart rate hit 178 and they had to stop my heart for a few moments to get a picture of what was happening. I now know exactly what a heart attach feels like… Sigh…)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ‘Love was the funniest thing’ – a line so memorable it should be the title of a novel. These intimate poems of your are so moving in their honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mark. If my poems are intimate, it’s because I’ve never known where to draw the line. It used to cause problems, but now, instead of being called crazy, I’m respected for it.
      This is one of the wonders of WordPress.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a difficult thing, as it could make you vulnerable to the unscrupulous, but for a writer, well it’s something most of us shy away from, that brutal honesty and yet it’s a gut wrenching thing to read when it’s on the page. Don’t change Jane 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shane. This poem was inspired by a piece of classical music my mother used to listen to when I was a child: The Planets, by Gustav Holst. The 5th movement is Saturn, The Bringer of Old Age.


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