When I passed them, tucked away
on a bench cut deep into the privet,

I observed two masculine hands at urgent play
on a small, cotton-clad, feminine rib-cage

which seemed content to lie there and accept
the attention, snug and close as a bird in its plumage.

At once your absence swept me, firey-cold,
and something envious and mean and chill

froze to my skin. I thought how, when we shared
our love, I could do better than lie still:

then a sharp rustling shook the dark-leafed bower;
the couple vanished, you sat quietly waiting

for me to notice you, to sense you’d spoken.
“In love, the one possessed has no less power

than the possessor. To accept with grace
is also to give.” And then, it seemed, you opened

your arms towards me so consentingly,
I was enfolded in that mystery.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 3 Number 5, on page 36
Copyright © 2019 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
staging.newcriterion.com/issues/1985/1/in-westgate-garden