Weekends off, signed into the book
As midwinter visitors
We consider what to order
Alone at table with wineglass and anthology
Enjoying our celebrity in a small hotel.

In the kitchen there is frying. The TV gushes.
Fizzing with excitement
The Blind Date announcer spices embarrassment
With quiz calls, favourites
And tried and tested appetisers
To talk up to a sweat.

Our choices are made.

Now seasoned, unhurried, disregarding etiquette,
My voice delivers print
Addressing all you are
As enigma, queen and long-term companion
In age-old declarations from Shakespeare and Donne.

The sweat returns. Boy meets girl
With fanfare, gasps and hand to mouth surprise
As red-raw flesh thickens in the pan.

All you want and more — fast food, instants
And aphrodisiac talk —
Mixed in now with VIP passions
And an image, in winter,
Of two at table lifting a glass
Encore une fois
To the world’s great lovers
Whose lives-in-celebration go back far
Coupled in a poem in a small hotel.

Leslie Stuart Tate's writing adapts elements of his life. Living near London, teaching English to Asylum Seekers and university students, admirer of Lowell, Berryman, Joyce, Woolf and Marilynne Robinson, he is the partner of Sue Hampton, children's novelist. His wild 60s rebellion, seen as the first steps towards self-awareness, is the theme of his poetic, character-led novel Aphrodite's Children, published by Pegasus. Believing in passionate complexity, he writes from the head and the heart about love, authenticity, generational change and matters of soul.

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