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Charity Function

January 4, 2014

This is from Louis de Bernières Imagining Alexandria (Click here). It’s straight sex that is on the way, but the poem is embarassing, sensual and kind, so still a fitting tribute to Cavafy.

Charity Function

She leaned across the table, confidentially,
As the dancers whirled to the cheap band
(For this was a charity function);
And drops of rain plashed aimlessly
Outside the marquee, whilst lovers retreated
From their kissing in the lilacs
And the rhododendrons.

She took the young man’s hand, toying with his fingers,
Glancing at the ham on paper plates
(For this was a charity function).
Then the rain drummed as the whole night shivered,
And nice old men in bow ties
Chatted to debutantes, and
Moths flared into the floodlights.

“Why don’t you come round for a chat sometime?
I’ve always got some beer.” She seemed forlorn,
And his heart leaped out, for
She was middle aged, no doubt her husband never touched her,
No doubt she didn’t want it;
But she was strong and hale, silent and suffering, and
Someone ought to love her.
He leaned across the table confidentially.

“I’d like that,”and it was no lie. It was
Not a charity function.
He was curious and amused.
Curious and excited, for
What could this be like?
And he was touched that he was trusted, that
It was him she asked.
It was him and not another.

Louis de Bernières

One Comment leave one →
  1. sue permalink
    January 4, 2014 11:05 am

    best two lines
    ‘I’d like that’, and it was not a lie.
    It was not a charity function.

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