Father Doyle and the Sisters decide
a Dance is in order
for Standard Six, a secular
First communion (our parents joke)
to prepare us for life beyond
the Convent. The girls are transformed
from uniforms into beautiful strangers
whose language we boys can hardly
put voice to. I dance.
I dance with Barbara Hackett.
To Perry Como? To Elvis? We dance
to music we will never forget.
* * *
Forty years later I read of Berlioz
setting off in his sixties to find
the Girl with the Pink Shoes
with whom he once danced when he was twelve.
I don't remember what colour shoes
Barbara Hackett wore when we danced
or was wearing the next Friday night
when I met her out shopping with her mother.
We blushed, I remember that, and I remember
the way her mother looked at us.
She looked as if the whole wide world
was a very sad place.
Walking Red Beach
The off-duty sea
has gone out for the morning
so they can walk and talk
and come back by
the footprints they make,
which are firm and delicate
and moreover there,
and theirs alone.
But the sea sighs
and comes in once more,
a tireless housekeeper
who's seen it all before,
and must make the beach as it was,
and as it will be
when one will ask:
"Remember the time we walked Red Beach?"
And the other reply:
"No, no I don't remember that."
Dakota Avenue 1969,
a small cottage rented,
a station on
our newly wed journey.
an old grapefruit tree
out back, successful
Coming home one night,
we looked up,
up to where men
were walking on the moon.
We say remember
a lot these days,
going as far back
as we can.
It's how we forget
all the small
fires that turned
away from us.
It's the air you notice first.
It's keener than the air
that you are used to breathing.
You're glad, difference after all
is what you've come here for.
And a large part of that entails
a view you've only seen
on films or glossy illustrations.
But the mountains have pulled clouds
as if they're cold or modest,
or have small imperfections
they'd rather cover up
until they get to know you better.
coming to new places
is like being reminded of
the time a girl invited you to kiss her,
and then she changed her mind.
Poems reproduced with permission of the author