Old Dog Love

by Luke Otley

Excuse me, would you accept this?

The card is attached to a thick brown arm cut with a heavy silver watch,
the arm attached to a landscape torso, a bright turquoise polo shirt,
the polo shirt attached to tan neck folds, a sharp white beard, a jolly old face,
his eyes are swooping down on her;
short hair, grey, thin frames, sharp nose,
and she looks down, I urge her in my mind– look at him!
But she’s too embarrassed, oh thank you thank you
she plays it away, she takes the card, already moving past, away
with dirty cups, busy, waiter’s cloth under crooked elbow, shrinking smaller,

thank you so much…

You’re welcome, and he begins to move away, lumbering almost
along the refrigerated cakes, the chocolate eclaires shining
with tiny frosted teardrops,
the packed jars of biscuits you’d have to be mad to buy, the cash register,
his head sways to and fro as he moves, like a proud old bear, it’s only a few short steps, he turns the corner.

She reappears brisk as before from behind the counter, but something’s different
in the way she wipes, something’s different in the way she stacks the dishes,
snatches with practised fingers the salt, pepper, mayonnaise.
Has she changed the cloth? Is that a new pinny?
No, now I see, bless my soul, it’s a smile that wets her gentle lips!