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Tea Dance at the De La Warr Pavilion

And in the fading afternoon



among frayed chairs, the teacups and the palms



as evening draws in across wet shingle



like a gathering in of grief, he glides



in nifty patent pumps to Nobby Clarke's

 



Moon River, forgets as they twirl across



the polished floor her knitted cardie



and thickened thighs, the Oxfam silver shoes,



remembering only, how once, in a trick



of shifting light, halted midway on the curve



of foyer stairs, he imagined his tongue



licking salt from her bare shoulder, lifting



the scalloped edge of her blouse behind



the empty bandstand as a June wind



blew in from a zinc-white sea.



 



Outside the dimming window beyond



the balcony, balustrade and strand louche boys



in shades lounge on blue deck chairs



like passengers going down on the Titanic,



pink tulips, petals tattered as ball gowns,



tilt party faces towards the mewing gulls



their necks snapping in the harsh west wind.



 



And still she feels beautiful as she leans



her heavy body into his three-beat steps



holding close that night when the moon



snuggled down over the breakwater as they sheltered



in the lee of the Pavilion's curved window,



passengers on a liner to a Newfoundland,



 



for these days time hangs



heavy as nostalgia in this life of bedding plants,



tea on the white veranda.



 



So is this... my Huckleberry friend...,



as he guides her ... 1 2 3 ... across the darkening



floor what love is, this enduring, this



taking another step? For still she feels danger flutter



like the red bathing flag he once raised for her



on the flagpole of his heart.

 
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