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Happy Days

Before waiting for you to arrive became a regular occurrence
I watched your bus swing in, its own sweet time,
and let you off; jungle bird headscarf, white dress,
the sun baking brown Aix to potter's clay.

All your stories were new, and necessary,
I had no faces to put names to any more than I knew the layout
of that sweltering town (two days in myself) or could stop us
walking past Happy Days five times,

its surroundings different from each angle of approach.
At the chateau we had the last of the wedding beers, the cold cuts,
under ruins falling at a rate too slow to count as change. The night
before there were bats, but no you, though your absence

had been beside me, wearing something stylish.
Evening was a terrace, armed gendarmerie, a waiter's tattoo
saying 'time is money'. I wanted you to stay for whiskey on the roof,
to see you in the morning, the influence of humidity

on the hair you would cut shorter, then shorter still
(as if for aerodynamics), back home where you're not time
that I'm killing but how I've started to weigh time:
the amount of you each day's worth of it contains.

I could grow content, expecting someone,
if it's you that I expect, then you appear;
minutes strung like spiders' silk across your shoulders,
decades turning pitifully slight.

Declan Ryan

Poetry London

Autumn 2017

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