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Poetry

 

AN OLD MAID

I remember Miss Moreton,
stern and stringy,
who taught us history
at the all girls school.

She was tall,
her voice precisely soft
but firm, no-one would
dare to mess around
in her class,
she could pre-empt such
foolishness with a stare
that shrank you down
to status of clown
or idiot before the thought
was even there:

until, until one day
she stood in for
our English teacher
taken ill…
and gave herself away.

“Open your poetry books”
she said “at page
one hundred and eleven”,
and picked on me to read.

“When you are old and grey
and full of sleep”… I began
“take down this book…”

At fourteen love was surely
in the air, more surely on
the brain, and I was
quite aware of Mr. Yeat’s
unrequited love for Maud
and this great poem;
I read on to the last verse
…“murmur a little sadly
how love fled…”

glancing up briefly to see
Miss Moreton dreaming
over my head into some
misty middle distance,
like a young wife gazing
across a rough sea for sight
of her fisherman.

I bent my head
to the famous last line,
reading with exaggerated
tenderness and
considerable wonder.

“Thank you and sit down”
was all Miss Moreton said.

 

 

 

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