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Familiarity Need Not Breed Contempt

Man and woman come and go together
over the field and around the house
for a full hour every evening.

Their tasks are fixed. He attends to the pig;
she is to and fro with buckets from the river
for watering the flowers.

His back to her, lifting and stooping, speaks familiarity
and when he turns he will see her back
bent over tin cans of geraniums
and now and then his glance encounters hers.
But they are business-like, and do not linger.

Once only, I heard laughter and caught them
between the red blooms, in the corner by the door.
He waited over her, mocking and calling
with high-voiced, sung words, over and over.
She, half humoured, made as if to go, yet still
drew the moment out, expectant,
faltering between the man who waited, and the flowers.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Zawe Ashton