Guest Poem by David Ball

David Ball is a poet and translator living in France, having retired as lecturer in English from Anglia Ruskin University. He regularly translates two contemporary French poets, François Migeot and Jacques Moulin, and his translations, as well as his own poems, appear from time to time in literary magazines. He is also the author of two slim volumes of haiku, The Seasons in the Park (bilingual) and Le Haïku se met à table. This poem is from Acumen 107.

To those who will come after us

after Bertolt Brecht

who will work longer to pay off the debts
we have accumulated, remember
how many things we had to buy,
how many interesting things there were to do,
how many places in the world to visit.
The cars, in which we went everywhere,
remember how many people they employed.

Don’t imagine that we lived in dark times,
quite the opposite, bright lights were everywhere,
happy faces beamed at us from every hoarding,
screens flashed at us ever brighter colours,
pop music accompanied our every outing.

Some tried to tell us: give it up,
use your inner resources, you’ll be happier.
I believed them, but I went on driving and buying.
Hard to be wise in such conditions.
Trees, we should have spoken about them,
taken the hint of their quiet dignity.

Surprise at every turn, invention, contradiction,
truly, we lived in changing times.
Did we really have the time to think of you?
Of the future. So uncertain.
How could we imagine it?

If you, however,
having sorted out the mess we left you,
come to live in peace,
in harmony with yourselves and with the world,
don’t distort your features in angry condemnation,
but think of us with forbearance.