Friday, March 10, 2006

The Joy Of Shopping


Vespers, then sweet privacy,
chaste shivers as beaded amber
asps over blanched knuckles
and scalding shame pulses
the temple vein.


Whenever she leaves these staunch cloisters,
crosses the gardens tended
by her flighty novitiates
to face the world on Market Street
shopping for essentials,
pavement or sky safer
for her eyes, her soul
than these stockbrokers,
pedlars of Oxbridge opium,
off to an early lunch
while their mistresses luxuriate
in Surrey spas, refresh
their flaxen poise,
she must hurry past too many
gaudy, satanic billboards,
her glance bevelled
from temptation,
from unrelenting torment.
The young, what can they know of guilt?
She flinches at the lapse.


He has so much to forgive tonight:
at her bedside, desperate, daunted,
she itemises disgrace after disgrace,
that familiar pain in her knees and head,
pain for her lifelong love
and she calls him, arms outstretched,
awash with degradation,
shuddering, beyond escape.


He appears, affirms,
embraces, caresses,
forgives.



The scourge bites to the bone.
Smiling, gasping relief,
she kisses his forehead
in pure longing,
holds him to her
starched, unfondled chest
a delicious moment,
then at her desk resumes
her Index Of The Scriptures,
a life’s work.

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