Sunday in Highgate

I watch the family sitting outside, the young

woman in red trousers, the young man

with the dark eyes, and opposite him their daughter

leans forward in her buggy, her eyes the same

doubt and desire. He breaks off a little of his

cake, and gives it to the child, she

pushes it into her mouth and all the time

her eyes watch his face, her pleasure that he’s tasting

just what she’s tasting. I watch them all, I think

when I have a child I’ll cut her hair

like that, a sloping fringe   and then I remember

I won’t have a child. There is this

habit of feeling   the response first   then a moment

later, remembering. Once you asked me

if I was pregnant   and I had to turn

my head away from you   in my highbacked chair

I rested my head against the old brocade

upholstery   the cold

pattern against my cheek. How long


does it go on like this, I wonder:

the heart refusing to hear the mind’s

evidence? The bus

tilts down the hill towards the city, the sky

saxe-blue and darkening   rubs out the spires

the tower blocks, the bright

transmitter over at Crystal Palace   the hills

Telegraph Hill   Herne Hill   and grey beyond

the Weald   the South Downs out of sight   the sea.