for Mary Esther

Which lifetime was it when
we first met? Did we sit,
stunned by each other, the look
in our eyes, in a country glen
with the sound of our horses
jingling the reins, snorting
as they broke into full
gallop on a Sunday afternoon,
all the farmwork done, or was

it another time, chariots, pyramids
the two of us watching the finishing
touches put on a half-beast, half-man
called the Sphinx, you turned to me,
pressed your hand into mine and
said, “they will remember us long

after we are gone, the creature will
stand when our names are forgotten”,
or was that us, on a hillside sitting
writing poetry to each other, you
beautiful, older, the morphine coursing
through your system, me, a bit younger
dazzled by your darkness, I was Robert
Browning then, you Elizabeth, our
love not forgotten nor our names

this time. There are two
young peasant children passing
flowers together after church, eyes
locked in hypnotic embrace, the church
is empty now. We are still sitting
in the love seat, it is this lifetime and both
of your cats are watching us, my arm
is wrapped round your body,
and I say, “this will be one of
many lifetimes,” and you laugh,
tell me you don’t remember anything
from the past, yet there is something. Then we kiss,

and we kiss, forgetting everything.