That! ? Moment? !

Poem By Michael Shepherd

What would writers do without
the question mark?
(luckier still, Spanish writers, who can begin their questions with
an upside down, wrinkle-your-brow-here question mark,
to begin their questions...) :

and then there's the rather immature mark, some say:
of share-it-with-me exclamation - surprise surprise!

But beyond all punditry, there are those moments
when life unexpectedly confounds us
with some event that's simply! ?
- or one that's rather more? !

Once when I wrote for a magazine now defunct,
I was offered one day as a kindness by our Editor
to present myself to a famous ophthalmic
(that's an eye-test in itself, that word)
surgeon, who might have a part-time job
to suit an underpaid journalist:
an Indian in grand, top people's Harley Street.

this Dr. Hiranyagarbha ran a sideline,
a magazine for the Diplomatic Corps;
in return for which he begged 'spare' eye corneas (don't ask)
from more wealthy (or loosely-regulated?) nations
which he then implanted nobly free of charge
in the less fortunate around the world.

The job was not quite up my Grub Street;
but he offered for my trouble,
a free eye test...
I checked the exit at that stage.

The test done, a dramatic pause...
Then the great man announced
'Your eyes are ten years older than your face..'

That's what I mean by a
! ? moment.

A vision then arose, so to speak:
ten years of blindness while my dying face caught up...
dark glasses? or a small but decipherable, poetic
plaque, pirate-slung over the forehead:

'Here lie those eyes of wild surmise
which I unwisely failed to prize...'

Maybe on reflection it was more of a
? ! moment, do you think?

Though the other way round for eyes and face
would be pretty scary and! ? for the funeral director?

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