We hit some unexpected traffic:
a wretched five-way signal on a Sunday.
What would have been two minutes through the town
becomes a chance for conversation as
we sit, unmoving, in a queue.
A line of ornate barbed-wire on a wall
diverts my driver’s eye, and she exclaims,
‘A modern metal crown-of-thorns type sculpture…’
It isn’t every day my wife remarks
upon the world in lines of perfectly
constructed verse. I get my notebook out.
I write the words and tell her what I’m writing:
her unintended line of chance blank verse.
‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Fuck off!’ she shouts. It looks far worse in print.
The Shakespeare quote was her in mock-poetic
mode; the expletive – aimed at some buffoon
driving a Merc. She goes off on a rant
about the selfishness of other drivers
and then she stops. ‘I’ve been living with you
too long,’ she says. It’s good to rail against the
stupidity of others, I reply.
It shows you’re still alive. This doesn’t work.
‘You’ve imposed your stronger personality
over the course of thirty years,’ she says.
‘I’m now pissed off at the world – how come you
don’t like ballet, or dancing...?’ I’m too busy
writing this down to think of a riposte.
This doesn’t go unnoticed. ‘Write a poem
for me: an ode for Mother’s Day; an ode
to daffodils; an ode…’ and here, she tries
obscenity. I can’t write that! I shriek
(with laughter). Now she’s started, though, this
supposed student of my misanthropy
does not stop there, and launches, with both vigour
and verve, a blast of non-stop fluent swearing –
in French! – as unexpected as it is delightful.
I didn’t teach you that, I think, and laugh
out loud (again). ‘I like it when I make
you laugh,’ she says, taking a break from swearing
in French. The traffic starts to move at last,
the moment passes, as all moments do;
we find ourselves along a different road.