It wasn’t until she stepped up to the guilt edge
and knelt that I looked for something more.
The Holbein worked her. The crowds looked on
as a blood red skirt rode above
knees and impossible heels twisted to reveal another world.
Two guards, suited, seemingly appearing from nowhere
helped her back to feet that disappeared with the
echoes of a gallop lost to the richness of marble.
I was sure we’d met before; known each other somewhere,
sometime, as I stepped up, took my turn, and for the briefest
of seconds lent forward to flirt with the work
where I struggled against the brush and ancient pigment.
We decided on a dog leg for our return;
criss-crossing the country the long way to
avoid the inevitable crowds that
would line our way. We lost the game.
Row upon row of hapless cars pulsed
from between towers, from arcades, from centres.
The news led with famine, then the weather
and then the blocked arteries or motorways. Nothing
changes; the season was alight. The sun was at our backs
as we passed beneath the footbridge leading to other lands.
And we looked forward, on towards the darkness
as the wheels turned slowly like heartbeats over rosary.