There's nothing new
In the argument she makes,
Or in his posturing,
Bringing his shoulders back,
Folding his arms -
Between the toy-shelves
And the magazine rack,
The slide-doors behind them
Framing a Constable
Of the setting sun: history
Begins and ends
In squabbles not much grander,
She drawing up his last hope
And shutting it dead
As Winter, he flailing
Inside his shaved skull
And making no sound audible
Above his falling regret -
While women beyond such hurt,
Or so they say,
Holding out their pension books
Like talismans against youth,
Line up with unremembered men
With whom they warred
The same before
The heart forgot and kept
Forgetting, move a body at a time
Towards the barred hatch
And an exchange of no language -
Who's to say he does not
Wish her dead, or see
His own death in her new eyes:
Or, parting in the car-park
In its metal purple light,
Each may see the absence of
The other as a gift, like sleep -
Now she's crossed one leg
Behind the other, and he's
Looked up to see No Smoking here,
A child trips, falls and yells,
A teenage girl, bored
Beyond her years, stares like Córtez
From behind a cash-register.

Fred Johnston

If you've any comments on this poem, Fred Johnston would be pleased to hear from you.

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