‘… is nothing but the beginning of terror.’ – Rilke

When beauty stumbled down my road, tapped at my door
I saw her from the lounge and hid – her eyes were raw
from smoke, her cheeks like risen dough from where she’d wept
and worse, I didn’t like the company she kept:
a red-faced drunk who towed a dachshund on a string.
Their mouths were slack and neither said a thing,
just stood and waited, dropping ash in my rose bed,
though as they walked away, she slowly turned her head.
For all she had a face made delicate by rain,
I told myself I’d never think of her again.

Besides, I spent the next year drinking in The Crown.
One Saturday, I rose to leave as they sat down.
She wore a hat. Her eyes were brighter than before,
(although I didn’t doubt that it was her I saw;
the stale light slung across her shoulders like a shawl,
her silhouette drawn sharp against the wall)
and though I grabbed my coat, I stood to leave and stalled.
I knew I had to stop and ask what she was called.
At last she spoke. I felt my hair rise all the same,
knew then it’s not the face we shrink from but the name.