Wow. This was a real marathon effort (in the April poem-a-day challenge). I managed to spend the whole afternoon on this. Looks like it is going to be take-away for dinner tonight. And, for the first time, I have followed the prompt exactly. My three phrases were taken from David Harsent’s fantastic new collection, Night. They were: the time to be gone has gone, nothing to shake the heart, and one reflection laid on the other. I’ve used them with alterations.
I’m not used to producing such a discursive effort. Obviously, it lacks any finesse and, as usual, it pretty much went its own way, but I’m pleased that it did get to what I think is a fitting end. It was hard work, though. I think a haiku tomorrow!
All meetings done, awaiting the time to be gone,
he poses a drink, or tea, perhaps? OK, then.
Fug of old lunches inside but too drizzly
To dare better, she shucks her coat and he, side on,
his ring, as if she hadn’t spent the morning, watching
as he twiddled and twirled and slipped it from finger
to finger and back. All on expenses, he says.
My treat. And she wonders what else he expects
to claim, stifles a grin imagining him, huffing
and puffing the stairs to her flat. Peppermint please,
she says, and takes out her phone. In the queue, he sees,
in a mirror, her head, still bent, intent on some
friend’s text, hair falling to hide her breasts from his gaze.
And that gaze seeks him out but his eyes only see
reflections laid, one on the other, depthless.
He rattles back and sets out pots and cups and cakes
on plates, then leans the tray to a table leg. Right,
he says, this looks good. She proves adept at keeping
talk on work and off herself; practised, you might say.
Well, he says, over crumbs and dregs, but she forestalls
his pitch by standing and lifting her coat and bag
in one smooth move. Ta very much, must be off,
see you next time and have a safe flight and she’s gone.
More slowly, he shrugs into his coat, takes up his valise,
and leaves. Outside, parked at a slant by the taxi rank
is a long and gleaming, old, pink Cadillac, something
to shake the heart of a boy whose sixpenny tickets
sealed his youth as a closet rebel without hope.
He strokes the fins, peers in at the shiny vinyl
seating, imagines the white walled tyres purring down
a sun drenched highway with himself at the wheel
in shades, jeans and an open-necked, clean white shirt.
Spits of rain shock him back and a look at his watch
shows him that the time to be gone has gone.