Cross-Channel Ferry

‘Il connut la mélancolie des paquebots.’

A husband sat at dinner with his wife
And watched the passage of the level sea.
The girl who served them served his fantasy:
Tight skirt, white shirt, the à la schoolgirl tie.
She knew she could disarm him with her smile,
And did, and still did later as he queued
To buy his wife her half-expected gift:
The perfume she assured him that she loved.

Outside the shop, he stood and tried to peel
The price off cleanly with his fingernail.
A woman of his age was watching him —
The incomplete, well-meaning English male.
He caught her knowing eye. Its sympathy
Provoked his laughter and a train of thought:

We mostly don’t get what we want. But then
Fidelity is best. But time is short
And lust at sixty is lust none the less
For being futile, and ridiculous.