“Plans with the Unmet Wife”
Should we first meet in a market
somewhere equidistant from our lives
and take up the tryst, slightly against choice,
in a city of mutual strangeness;
should lunch hour in a gallery
become a truant afternoon;
should I feel your side and grow privy
to homeland, or the childhood room
where you’d hide and which I’ll never visit;
if we have to fly family over
for the ceremony, and tell them straight
that we’ve altered our bearing,
how is this going to work?
Aflutter from the thought a kid
of mine might be oval-eyed,
I pace Manhattan’s narrow rood.
Our dark-skinned and bilingual girl
would be better poised, thank god,
than her old man. Better able to glide
thoughtlessly between her stations,
beholden less to land than tide.
Should people be landlocked, though?
Years from now, you’re bathing her
in the sink of our apartment.
Something of the light: your shorter hair
and rolled sleeves have me in mind
of Nan, when she worked a loofah
every Friday against my back.
My parents’ weekly respite:
packed off for an overnight,
I remember the peerless heat
of jim-jams from the radiator
sliding over my shampooed head,
and the contours of my second bed —
how Mam was only separate
by twenty minutes of motorway.