Sunday Lunch

Michael Vince

It’s hot and there are flies here and I drank
A lot too much; the children scream and run
Out from the tables, chasing in the sun;
 A driver peers and shakes his head
Then points towards the fig-trees further down
Where trout for lunch float idly in a tank;
My neighbour fills my glass, empties his own,
 Then toys with crumbled ends of bread.

We drink to aimlessness, the stronger wine;
I bathe in it just balanced in my chair
And weight of heat hanging in tired air.
 The others all seem closed in light,
In glass, or water yielding to the touch;
Our talk trails slowly from the shading vine
In ways that gesture not to say too much,
 Or nod to make their meaning right.

And when the afternoon begins to sway,
My neighbour sings, his voice surging but tense;
It meets a tone and pulse under the sense,
 Forbidden darkness below words,
Learnt by heart from a hard testament.
Down in their easy depth the children play;
Watching his face they bask in their content
 Then dart away like startled birds.