Turn Back

Turn back the page. Turn back
and in the failing rays that fall
naked in the hall
from pale Edwardian fanlight's dust of days
unremembered, slumbered,
read again last lines, last words.

Turn back, in no-one's gaze
where pointed fingers talk of doubt
or shout accusatory glee.
They cannot see
the guilty glance that strays
to the number at the bottom of the page.

You have left them in the auditorium
where stiffened shoulders serve to ridicule
early applause
because you missed the gigue.

Turn back and trust to number once again
when sense is vain
and the phrases of the poet cloy
like honeyed sand.

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