for Marilyn Hacker
He a Distinguished Visiting Professor,
she a T-shirted teaching scholar
'sitting in' on his famous knockabout lecture
on the Irish Counts of Toulouse.
She laughs out loud – in the right places.
Her brazen gaze from a rag-quilt of faces
has him wonder, 'What have I to lose?'
They go for coffee in the campus café,
stroll downtown round the Indigenous
Arts Centre, watch aborigines
skateboarding a wharf by the bay;
a fiery tagine with almond couscous,
a weave uphill bras dessus, bras dessous...
On her porch she asks him to stay.
Their dovetailed days rush on towards autumn
a basso continuo of bayfish and salads,
whitewater weekends shooting the rapids
at theme-parks the faculty shun.
They lie in late with a Tolhurst chorale,
drowsily discourse on La France Impériale,
her thesis on 'Schnack and Verdun'...
He, the distinguished visiting adulterer,
returns none the less to his other.
She, the scholar of piquant ephemera,
has briskly signalled a kiss
in Departures and left. Now the impartial
ennui of airports: in his learned journal
her deft pantoum on Loss.
from The Sadness of Animals (Canterbury: San Marco Press, 2012).