I cross the narrow threshold in search of something,
Something half-remembered across half a lifetime –
The aroma of baking bread on an autumn morning,
Tinged by the reek of fish from the monger’s stall.
The smell was keener then, sharpened by youthful hunger,
I followed it all the more eagerly for the lower price,
And another kind of yearning rose as I queued there
For one in front of me, recognised from behind.
She turned and saw me, paused and would speak,
Lonely herself and full of youth’s longing,
But even as words formed I saw her frown
For I had not spoken, not dared to reach out,
And she passed with an impatient turn of the head.
Now, hunger and yearning satisfied by the years,
I scan the strangely straightened aisles for that place
But find only jewellery, fashion, a sports shop,
The very shape of it gone, its space an Italian café,
And perhaps there, sipping a latte, that very girl,
Now grown portly, who would not give a second chance
To a now-angular gentleman who hesitated once.