Learning to read you, twenty years ago,
Over the pub lunch cheese-and-onion rolls.

Learning you eat raw onions; learning your taste
For obscurity, how you encoded teachers and classrooms

As the hands, the shop-floor; learning to hide
The sudden shining naked looks of love. And thinking

The rest of our lives, the rest of our lives
Doing perfectly ordinary things together – riding

In buses, walking in Sainsbury’s, sitting
In pubs eating cheese-and-onion rolls,

All those tomorrows. Now twenty years after,
We’ve had seventy-three hundred of them, and

(If your arithmetic’s right, and our luck) we may
Fairly reckon on seventy-three hundred more.

I hold them crammed in my arms, colossal crops
Of shining tomorrows that may never happen.

But may they! Still learning to read you.
To hear what it is you’re saying, to master the code.


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