101: Amy brings the thesaurus

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.

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