‘If Only I… An Exile’s Regret’ © Joe Canning 2017. All Rights Reserved.

‘If Only I… An Exile’s Regret’
© Joe Canning 2017. All Rights Reserved.

If e’er you hear me laughing loud,
My friend ’tis all a sham,
For here before you stands a sorry,
Sad tormented man.
If I could turn back pages,
Turn back the hands of time,
I’d sleep with comfort in my bed,
And rest with content mind.

If I could shake my fathers hand,
Or touch my mother’s face,
I’d have the treasures of this world,
My heart would be at peace.
I rue the day they stood there,
When I left that shore to roam,
The tears that stained my mother’s cheeks,
As my father begged, “Don’t go”!

If only I could walk the fields,
Or wander down those lanes,
If I could wield that heavy spade,
And slice the turf again.
If I could watch old chimneys reek,
And dance at country fairs,
I’d swing with all abandon,
The maiden I left there.

If truth be told my life’s been good,
But I must say in truth,
That urge to roam it haunts me now,
As I drift to my youth,
This haunting of my conscience,
This guilt, this grief, disgrace
Oh that I could hold them now,
Back home in that old place.

If only I could mend that thatch,
Of a cottage fallen down,
Or help the old man as he aged,
Or milk his only cow,
If I could taste that buttermilk,
Or help turn mother’s churn,
Not sought the wealth of greener grass,
If only I’d returned.

I sometimes think and oft times weep,
And think of their cold stone,
That others placed their names upon,
And not their absent son.
My overdue apologies are carried on the wind,
I feel that I abandoned them and rue my selfish sin.
I whisper, “please forgive me, if I put upon you pain”,
If only I could shake his hand and kiss her cheek again.

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