On Meeting an Old Lover in Sainsbury's

It was your familiar greeting.
But floating across the aisles in Sainsbury's
from a distance of four years
it caught me unprepared. 

I turned - to see a different person
within a body that might have been
what yours was going to become.
Only your eyes unchanged. 

The customary rapture of old acquaintance:
a slight touching of cheeks, in front of
four observant little eyes -
no scent of Mitsuko now - 

your hand so close to my trolley
I might’ve touched it. But no time
or thought of news in aisle 12;
amid the Household Goods.

Your body, once so swift to respond,
now looked to have its own tempo –
passion just a memory,
a door imperfectly closed.

So, with a cursory admiration
of your womb's fair-headed fruit
we part, faithlessly promising
our families' reunion.

At the checkout I recall
the open cheq you gave me once,
drawn “All my love”, signed G,
and “Not Negotiable”.

What value might it have retained
in the teeth of soundrel time
had you not issued, between
whiles, 'instructions not to pay'?

21 i 1987

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