Monday, December 19, 2005

A Christmas Poem from Long Ago

(After Fulke Greville)

Lost in Ladies Lingerie
In a store at Christmastide
Suddenly a Girl in Grey
Passes softly at my side.

Such a girl as pen forestalls
Such a face as brightens day
“Where,” I ask “is Overalls?”
“Overalls?” she said “that way”

Then she pointed with her hand
Would have nestled in my palm
All my senses’ fires fanned
White, her hand was cool as balm.

Stunned, I turn and walk away
Impelled where her finger showed
In her hand was light of day
And I swear the counter glowed.

Had the pointing finger bent
Loadstone I to her would fly
In a marriage with her blent
Never seen in Lingerie.

Lost in love at length I stop
At the counter where they sold
Overalls & Ladies’ Smocks
Hung on hangers fold on fold.

There I waited for my turn
While the lady chattered on
How much shop assistants earn
What she should have said to Ron.

Fancy weaves itself a dream
Way above her clapping tongue
Drinking at a silver stream
Overhead by oaktrees hung

With a soft white form beside
Moving in a dappled shade
Ploughloam hair and satin eyed
On a couch of moss we made.

Then I saw – what can I say
Breaking in my reverie
Then I see the Girl in Grey
I had seen in Lingerie.

Men say dreams forewarn the man
Of a thing that time will bear
In a dream an angel can
Gather up a form of air.

Spirit forms delight the mind
Bodied forms give joy to sight
Both in one these two combined
Fear puts speech and sense to flight.

Shop girl eager and refined
Holds a smock up to her breast
“Was this what I had in mind?”
Brown eyes wide at my behest.

Millstreams that the weir has checked
Smooth in utter calmness lie
Happy merely to reflect
All that passes in the sky.

I a millpond to her sun
(Customers are always right)
Nylon, shapeless, colour dun
Over heart’s drum hear “Not quite.”

Then she laughs and puts it back
Mournfully the hangers crunch
Smiling leaves me by the rack
And glides away to have her lunch.

Now the lady comes to me
Can she help in any way
Thinks I want Maternity
No I want the Girl in Grey

She a fast dissolving form
In a Christmas shopping nation
Lovely, witty, graceful, warm,
Lost through palsied hesitation

None will ever touch those hands
While he just adores and stands.

(c) Richard Lawson
Ca. 1969

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