To the girl who stood beside me at
the checkout counter of Whitcoulls
bookstore in Hamilton on Tuesday
For ten seconds I fell
in love with you.
The first second we met.
You were buying recipes.
The second second we turned,
Taking pieces of each other out of our eyes.
The third second we held each other gently.
Your skin was a small kitten playing with a curtain.
The fourth second we kissed.
Front gates clicked against our fence.
In the fifth second we married.
Your dress was made of Nikau palm.
The sixth second we built a house beside a lake
It was never tidy and the grass was up to our knees.
The seventh second we argued:
About toothpaste and poetry
and who would put out the rubbish.
The eighth second we grew fat and happy
and laid on the ground after eating.
Your stomach wriggled with a round child.
In the ninth second we were old in the same garden
of the same house by the same lake in the same love.
The tenth second we said goodbye.
Your hand slipped away from mine but
seemed to me like something I could feel.
We passed again beside each other without turning
As though we had somehow only met at the checkout
counter of Whitcoulls bookstore in Hamilton
on a faintly blue September Tuesday.
First published in The Listener, 6 July 2002.