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The Saturday poem: Within Ten Seconds

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By John Fowles

Within ten seconds
I knew I wanted to kiss your eyelids.
This is why I kept staring
Past you, as if to a cold horizon.
You were not boring me, as you thought.
I was looking to where you stood
Smelling of rain, with naked breasts.
Naked, defenceless, needing defence.
It was not as you thought,
You were piqued and moved away.
I was the one who by silence,
Staring, no move, moved away.

Where pine trees touch water.
I am
Men who tie themselves to masts.
You are
Sirens with delicate eyelids.
Penelope is white with lust.
Molpe, the deck has tears
And the rock has tears.
Even the sun has molten tears.

Meeting, never to meet again.

• From Selected Poems by John Fowles, edited by Adam Thorpe (Flambard Press, £12). To order a copy for £9.60 with free UK p&p go to the Guardian bookshop


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