Both of us were ferreting shelves,
on the loose in Supasave.
You were eyeing hair-tint; I had
my swag of Harpic.
The bag was chinking my pocket,
ringing my remnant of change.

Budgeting up the aisle,
I hadn't bargained on the way
you'd dance a fraction on your feet,
the quizzicality I'd forgotten.
I knew it was you, of course.
You could have knocked me down
for a feather.

After sixteen years,
and memory's black economy,
we were bartering blather
where once we'd traded insults.

Better then, as we did,
to settle elsewhere, and to spend
an hour balancing
the books we'd never looked at:
wiping the slate, I suppose.

We shopped each other
half our conscious lives ago:
good, therefore, to repay
the missing months and years
with coins of conversation.

From Love Poems


for Gail Williams