Amy brings the thesaurus

Mid-winter night. Amy strides across
the zebra crossing, a bulging bag of books
in each hand. Head bowed against the rain.

It’s our night for conversation and eating prawns.
The Szechuan chef in the open kitchen
bends over his wok while a line of ducks

is growing redder with each ladle
wielded by the sous chef. Our little table
beside the window seems cast in street light

from the rain-drenched lamp post opposite.
‘I’ve brought . . .’ and Amy opens
thesaurus, dictionary, Fowler’s Modern Usage

pushing the bamboo steamer of pork rolls aside
and taking up her chopsticks like pencils.
It is the gesture that overwhelms, not

the heavy compendiums I will return to
each of her bags and thence her arms
though I will hold an umbrella over her

for her pristine devotion to scholarship
for her seeing in the heat of careless writing
a parallel longing for a jewelled fact

a beauty built on solids. And now comes
the procession of dishes: the Bang Bang chicken
the Mapo Tofu and the luscious pink prawns.

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