Richmond: early May bank holiday

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Boat on the Thames by Isleworth

The black-backed gulls have flown far up the river.
They’re after moorhen chicks and others.
A yellow snatching bill, a bloody shiver:
I wonder if they grieve, their mothers?

A sturdy builder’s parked his transit van.
He’s sixty, but his wife is forty seven.
He wears tight shorts all day, because he can.
A picnic’s her idea of heaven.

How many have I nodded to this day?
He’s a Kipper, I’m a Green,
We love all the darling buds of May
That clothe the splendent Faerie Queene.

And once I saw her face, or so I thought.
Her flaxen hair, her sigh the breeze,
She snared me in the silken net she wrought,
She pulled me to my bony knees.

Outside the pubs they bray and bottles chink,
“I’ll have the lovely pan-fried trout,
The yellow patty-pans for veg, I think.”
For they must have no fear or doubt.

What we share divides us more it seems,
Her liquid eyes, my riven heart,
The hot red shame of foolish river dreams,
The thoughts that slay and pull apart.

Above the boats, the teeming tubes roar past,
Each one arrives in hope or sorrow.
When we walk away from soul, we fast
Become a shell, dried out and hollow.

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