Until they meet again


Artwork: Shmuel Shapiro, Two Lovers, 1966-7

The fourth in a set of poems entitled Lovers’ Quarantine

Here, the ongoing narrative of separated lovers is given wider spacial form, giving insight into prior motifs within an extended non-linear structure. The theme of regret is referenced, even burlesqued, through allusions to T. S. Eliot’s love poetry.

by Fred Baxter


Until they meet again

She is left only with the strain

Of a bundle of memories,

Tied by months of silences

And unravelled in these quiet hours,

Of chestnut hair nestled under a shower

Of dancing candlelight,

Glances under whispering purple nights;

Snapshots swim into her mind

As untouchable memory, lines

Of reel of all she should have done

Before people went out in ocean-blue gloves

And the streets were left half-mumbling,

Deserted retreats half-fumbling;

How she never had their legs interlocked

Under the table like washed socks, or mocked

Anger in one of those looks,

One of those looks…, or explored the nooks,

Never met in the moon-sunk churchyard

And drank from the web of stars,

Before rainbows assembled

At every window, and night trembled

Down at the lights of shut-up houses;

How she never asked his opinion of her blouses,

Or her skirts, what he really thought,

And laughed as he sought

To understand the pleats, the darts, the seams,

Walked out, she and him, where dull light gleamed

Upon the rocks as proof rocks know

When the tide will drown them, or showed

Him what she felt in writing,

In touches that had him igniting,

Or felt for herself his whitest skin

And found a beating heart within.

But there will be time, time

For clues and signs

In letters and hymn books,

In touches and in those looks,

Bound for now with silence,

Until they meet again.

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