We watch them sitting down beside us,
(she, the latte; he, long black)
and see them splitting up the paper
(he, the sport, and she, the crossword).
Five or forty years ago,
we would have seen them leaning inwards
antiphonal and half-obsessed,
hands upraised to stroke a cheek.
We’re thinking now, too hastily,
how all their conversation’s gone,
how everything and more’s been said.
We see the waiter bring their coffees.
They look up vaguely with their thanks,
glimpse each other fleetingly;
then re-divide the world.
Alone or paired, it seems to us
that life is mainly diminution,
infatuations cannot last.
We read the law of entropy
across their concentrated faces.
Their sex life, we surmise,
must show the same decline —
skins in moonlight too well-known,
dramas long played out.
They look up once to share a smile.
She’s stuck perhaps on 14 down;
he wonders how the Western Bulldogs
ever won a game.
A knee is rubbed against a knee
as if by accident.
We’re thinking it’s all loyalty now —
and somewhere also seeing how
a high spring tide of pheromones
collapses into love.
1 February 2014