Starlings flap, shortening
his breath when he thinks of her,
even now, guilt burning.
But she is bitternut, an almond gone off,
to the other side of the river,
in yellow light. Rumour has it
that Solomon once waded here.
He can feel the footsteps
of a king. He’s dropped her
like an abandoned shoe
on the M65, is steeping himself
in sunlit stone, hills, olive trees, the scent
of a biblical land. In the night hours
cards and patience help. His longing
remains, but her mouth
has turned hard as horsehide,
he no longer
has the lips for it.