‘If I’d thought first, I wouldn’t have said that,’
he thinks aloud, and then thinks silently,
second and third, of other things there’s a chance
he’ll say and wish for always he hadn’t.
But it’s as plain as the nose on his face
(the nose he probably wouldn’t choose) that
if he’d thought first, he still would have said it
to drown the silence drowning the radio,
to hear how it sounded when given voice,
or maybe to look at it in her face.
Mugs on the table stood open-mouthed,
and calendars began measuring its lifespan.
Bearing its lifespan in mind, he drives
at weekends to hotels and campsites
and makes late-night bookings on flights and whims,
and thinks as he packs if he’d thought, he wouldn’t.
Robert Etty lives in Lincolnshire. His latest collection, Planes Flying Over, was published by Shoestring Press in 2020.