Eighth Period


Last year’s sexkitten, out of work again,
(mean effrontress, chased and bare)
saunters about the grounds with her great Dane,
as sandy blonde as that lassitude of hair –
boy-hunting, leash seductively in hand.
Four o’clock and time to make a stand.

I plot my progress through the room to reach
the window for a glimpse of her, compare
her insinuity with these hulks I teach,
mobile jumble-sales with sweep’s-brush hair.
One week to go. Difficult to think
by then they’ll learn to dress like her and slink.

Drama for Today. She reads a speech,
a mother deprived of husband and only son
in the World War. (Once more undo her breach,
dear friends.) The long day’s task is done.
The slumping class as usual does not hear,
luckily. She speaks with passion. And they’d jeer.

Only I hear and follow closely now,
head in the book to hide my smarting eyes,
tensing for fear I have to pick a row
with some lout there before that passion dies.
This part of her may last until the bell,
perhaps a year. A glance outside may tell.

Untrammelled sunset across the silt plain
leans in the window, deriding all shapes,
knocking the shadows sideways once again.
Chalk dust solidifies two broken scapes
propped on the sill. Some day soon
that girl will find her shadow squat at noon.

And this one? She’ll leave, now that she can,
to work for drinks, good lays and a night’s rest.
And then she’ll feel it in her bones how man
is easy straight up or flat out at best;
till at her gate one evening she will stand
watching his shadow deformed by ploughed land.

from Edge to Edge: New and Selected Poems (Anvil, 1996), copyright © Peter Dale 1996, used by permission of the author and Anvil Press Poetry Ltd.

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