Bonsai swimmer

Winter solstice week, and the elderly widower
lunching in the Gallery Café is engaged
in conversation with a woman of equivalent
circumstances, both at apparent pains
to recover their pattern while the familiar light lasts.

Outside, the rim of an upturned bucket
fills with rain water, rendering
a liquid veneer as broad
as the original. My imagination adds

a scrawny swimmer of bonsai limbs and ravaged tufts
who enters this miniature shoal in fading dusk.
As he strikes out for the far side, I note
the studied nonchalance of his stylish crawl;
I worry if his fingertips sense the near graze as they claw
just short in the shallow; or will he swim on, unperturbed,
completing laps begun elsewhere, long ago?

A shallow man of cowardly desires, I shrink
into my flat white, averting my gaze,
and when I spot him, a few days later, holding hands,
I hope it is the same
woman, that it is all going well. This is not much
of a love poem but I am reminded to be glad
that I can continue in the deep end with you.

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