The Winterage

The French at table in
l’hivernage, a real mix:
the women in their fifties, say,
their grumpy men are older.
I seldom am so taken with
the men:

the women might have been
the girls I saw beside the Seine
one summer, back in seventy-nine,
dark heads bent over tables -
“tarblers” we were taught in school -
discussing everything and smoking,
gorgeous, yes, at seventeen.

And here again,
with partners at a later age
the women, younger, self-aware,
a Catholic strain of discipline
in their familiar, Gallic way
and talk, talk, talk,
I’m pleased to see they all hold
Living it up, in old Maroc,
a stone’s throw from the desert.

Dominic James