Mid-winter night. Amy strides across
the zebra crossing, a bulging bag of books
in each hand. Head bowed against the rain.
It’s our night for conversation and eating prawns.
The Szechuan chef in the open kitchen
bends over his wok while a line of ducks
is growing redder with each ladle
wielded by the sous chef. Our little table
beside the window seems cast in street light
from the rain-drenched lamppost opposite.
“I’ve brought …” and Amy opens
thesaurus, dictionary, Fowler’s Modern Usage
pushing the bamboo steamer of pork rolls aside
and taking up her chopsticks like pencils.
It is the gesture that overwhelms, not
the heavy compendiums I will return
to each of her bags and thence her arms
though I will hold an umbrella over her
for her pristine devotion to scholarship
for her seeing in the heat of careless writing
a parallel longing for a jewelled fact
a beauty built on solids. And now comes
the procession of dishes: the Bang Bang chicken
the Mapo Tofu and the luscious pink prawns.