Go back to the opal sunset

Clive James

Go back to the opal sunset, where the wine
Costs peanuts, and the avocado mousse
Is thick and strong as cream from a jade cow.
Before the passionfruit shrinks on the vine
Go back to where the heat turns your limbs loose.
You’ve worked your heart out and need no excuse.
Knock out your too-tall tent-pegs and go now.

It’s England, April, and it’s pissing down,
So realise your assets and go back
To the opal sunset. Even Autumn there
Will swathe you in a raw-silk dressing-gown,
And through the midnight harbour lacquered black
The city lights strike like a heart attack
While eucalyptus soothes the injured air.

Now London’s notion of a petty crime
Is simple murder or straightforward rape
And Oxford Street’s a bombing range, to go
Back to the opal sunset while there’s time
Seems only common sense. Make your escape
To where the prawns assume a size and shape
Less like a new-born baby’s little toe.

Your tender nose anointed with zinc cream,
A sight for sore eyes will be brought to you.
Bottoms bisected by a piece of string
Will wobble through the heat-haze like a dream
That summer afternoon you go back to
The opal sunset, and it’s all as true
As sand-fly bite or jelly-blubber sting.

What keeps you here? Is it too late to tell?
It might be something you can’t now define,
Your nature altered as if by the moon.
Yet out there at this moment, through the swell,
The hydrofoil draws its triumphant line.
Such powers of decision should be mine.
Go back to the opal sunset. Do it soon.