Elizabeth Smither: ‘Lucy at the conference’

Lucy at the conference
for Lucy Dougan


When Lucy came up behind my chair

and put her arms around me


enclosing the stiff-backed chair

and my waist in a circle of air


so I half-turned my head

to identify her I thought


in an instant how the conference improved

the speeches became marvellous, courtly


in the deference to one another, not

one went over their time, the chairman


summed up each paper beautifully

all was harmony where before I had


harsh thoughts on the relevance of symposia

and whether all papers are soliloquies


until Lucy came: loose chair-filled embrace

side of her face against my cheek, wing


of hair and laugh deep in her throat

then what a treat to be in academia.

Elizabeth Smither

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