flourishing a cane or twirling a parasol,
all nipped-in waists, doffed hats
and little pointed shoes.
Regency bucks and belles,
they appear out of nowhere, for no reason,
leaning by a bridge or balustrade,
admiring a willow tree.
Given over to reflection,
they do nothing for a season, in pairs,
while a butterfly waits in mid-air.
That impossible basket of flowers
says all there is to say about love
in their shiny black world.
After dark, their silver paper costumes
shimmer in the light from the street.
Their flickering afterimages
stiff-leg-it round the room
in time to some tinselly tune from long ago.
For a moment, they seem to dance together.
Suddenly bashful, they hide
behind fans or dance programmes,
or turn their heads to one side.
They pass their days like this,
bowing and scraping to one another
on either side of a mantelpiece or door,
till one of them goes missing,
or crashes to the floor.Reuse content