First Snow

                expelled from the garden of narrative

                in the cruel no-man's-land between       

             insights intellectual and visceral   

It wasn't really snow. It started

but soon stopped; by evening no trace remained.

And yet at noon it seemed no blasphemy

that some transcendent sense of fun

should now replay the mythical scene in which

a year before we had been flung together,

again in the first snowfall, and, of course,

in the same place. On the way, in the tram,

realisation dawned:

you had not been a state of grace, so that

with you I was more often happier,

but that every itsy-bitsy thing

to do with you had had that certain spark,

been full of meaning midst the attraction of

other particles, and life's warp and weft,

its splendid, ordered texture, gleaming far

beyond the grasp of mere geometry,

had then not only held me like a web

but also fitted close, as does a dress

that's made to measure, and when you were there

was shot with many a frisson. 

Then, in the warmth of the Red Lion tea-room

(next day, no scene, merely a parody,

TV reported from precisely there:

a private battle-field, at sterile range)

- you were late as time unravelled,

we had to wait for a table, to submit

to other people's time - it was at last

clear that the animal greed, the sheer despair,

with which we'd tried to force agreement - while

maintaining each our interests - upon

everything that once we'd jointly held

in easy harmony, was by now

incapable of holding us together. 

A hasty peck, we went our separate ways.

The evening pavement, bare again of snow,

lay dim in the chaos between two myths,

a dreary, cold expanse of vague extent. 

Translated by Bernard Adams