Du Temps Perdu
April is taxation month, trimming
Hedges, tidying up the lawn, fixing
Paths and fences, packing
Compost round the roots again.
Winter, central heated, steamed up
The Thames past Westminster Bridge.
Summer we booked at Torremelinos,
Insured against the rain. We took a villa,
Strolled through the sunshine to the beach,
Listening to the radio and drinking coke
And watching Athena through dark glasses
Bathing with the middle classes,
Old men with rolled trousers on the sand,
Their talk of soil erosion,
The population explosion,
Of teeming typists in the Strand.
The Mexican bird-god Pepsicola,
With wings of myrtle ever sear,
Perched on granny's pianola
Between two jars of Watney's beer.
Meanwhile, up west, with look all soul,
Maisy attends the latest Warhol
Or between the telly and a macaroon
Withstands the vacuum of the afternoon.
At evening, waiting for the telephone,
She paces about the room alone,
As we have waited, you and I,
Upon the sands of southern Spain,
Until the barbarians of July
Drove us to Darlington again.
She reads her fortune in the stars:
An endless round of coffee bars
In empty cities of the plain
Waiting for the rain
Like a knock upon the door.
Das ist mein leben,
But it is only the rain upon the door.
You sit beside the silent sea
Outside Guiseppe's bar and grill,
Your dull brown fingers pecking bread,
Like sparrows on a windowsill.
The incense of your cigarette,
An implication of perfume
Compound themselves on my attention.
Across the table I observe you laugh,
The golden hairs that run along your arms,
The silver sequins and vermilion nails
That tinkle like an echo on your glass.
Caught forever in my camera lens,
You sing beside the wine-dark sea,
A gay cicada whose one evening
And in the roof-garden, looking down on stars,
The headlights of a thousand motorcars,
You smile as you rotate your hips,
Snapping the music between your fingertips.
And when you have broken the last bar
And silence descends upon the last guitar
And silence is becoming
Without the amplifier and drums,
The only sound worth listening to,
Then what will you do?
Bored with a life of this and that,
With coffee from the automat,
With all those tres bien quelquechoses,
Fiber glass and plastic roses,
Taking the car to the supermarket
And finding there's no place to park it,
Unable to quit television
Come fire or flood or intermission,
While listening to a voice declare
The virtues of a frigidair
And watching lovers on the box
Advertising drip-dry socks,
Reading novels that last forever
By authors who are almost clever,
You'll occupy the middle ground
Between the fatuous and profound
And yellow, like a paper flower,
Interned within your concrete tower,
An aging Lady of Shalott
Twelve storeys above Camelot.
I shall pack my life in a plastic bag
And join the old men in the park,
The Sons of Rest who never rest
But stare with empty eyes upon the dark.
We shall shelter from the rain
That knocks at Grishkin's window pane.
She will say, as she removes a stocking,
"Would you could rouse passion with your knocking."
Complacently she'll close her eyes,
Listening to her lover’s sighs,
And he will satisfy his lust
Before his darling turns to dust.
Afterwards she'll watch him teeter
Between her and the parking meter.
She waves farewell, there's no entreating;
Love in a thirty-minute zone is fleeting.
Let us go, then, sweetie pie,
Where the day's stretched out to die
Like a diva at La Scala.
Let us walk the streets of Soho
With Hassan and Yamamoto,
Past the flicks and massage parlor
Past the restaurant for gourmets
And the girls in darkened doorways,
Past the offers of admission
To a course of French tuition,
And the bliss at bargain prices
Sold in shops of strange devices,
Where beneath the neon skies
I'll show you love that never dies,
Forever pouting, forever pert,
In see-through blouse and mini-skirt.
Come, let us go then, sweety-pie,
Pirouetting, you and I,
Beneath the catherine-wheeling sky.
Let us roll the past into a ball,
Preferring to have loved and lost
Than never to have lost at all.