I’m early, by the look of it. Ushered in by the writer
I walk in, find a chair under a discreet light,
glance around. A few women scattered, brighter
for silks and cologne, and the air-conditioning’s bite;
a camera or two, a handycam adjusting his grip tighter,
and the mike man setting his knobs right.
On a table, the author’s labour lies in piles, neat
and inviolate till autograph time. A coffee drum,
cups and biscuits stand unbroached, complete
as still life, inert till the others come.
There’s no sign yet. I park my bag on the seat
next to mine, thinking I could do with some.
And return to wondering why I’m here. Bored,
I pull your precious Larkin out, grateful for the gift,
plant a surreptitious kiss to serve both adored.
Somewhere voices louden, as the guests drift
in; a speaker says something, words obscured
by accent. I revel in the librarian’s thrift.