Riposte

The silence slammed her round the face
before she'd time to duck:
idling by the bannisters,
it turned up early, like a taxi
testing its destination.

At first, she'd no riposte.
The insults she'd been training for
were swept into nothing,
trumped by the quieting
kybosh of speech.
She was drunk on its punch.

The bell rang. The door,
swinging a little, its hinges
apparently playful,
opened her eyes to the road.
Car. Trees. The wreck
of a garden fence. Something
wayward about the signposts, too:

she scrumped a curse from the air
and ate it before his eyes.
Silence she took, smarting,
and knotted it almost tenderly
round his neck.

The beach in her bag,
with the tide in, too, weighed
less than her last cool look.

From the book Looks Familiar