La Mairie

Scarlet. Rarely spoken, the name,
this colour out in the open, blazing
– her bodice, hugging the cream dress,
shaped to her waist, raising her breasts –
the perfect bride! Him, broad in his
cream-white suit, his arterial-red
waistcoat, matching hers, beaming.

Together, perspiring, in the town hall
the old mayor and his assistant
proclaim the marriage. Outside it is raining
dry rice, thrown by adults, children,
a train of brightly coloured dresses
follow the couple to the village square
the church steps, in front of the camera.

Before we drink, we join the cavalcade
of cars – thirty – threading their way
through the heat, among villages
tooting horns, passengers waving,
shouting French greetings,
bride and groom riding high
on the back seat of a white, 1920s Bentley.

A night of feasting, of drinking
beneath the Burgundy sky:
joints roasting over a dry, radiant pit,
and champagne, more champagne
wine, red, red wine
an accordion voicing its French lyric
as the dancing begins…never ends.

© Steve Walter

Stall turn

He told me before he went to sleep
just after we had said good night,
Dad, tomorrow I want to do a stall turn.

His first flight nearly a year ago, now barely
turned fifteen, this only his third
with the RAF: What do you mean?

Well, you fly full throttle, vertical, then stop.
Cut the power to idle; hang suspended at fivethousand feet;
the flaps, with no air passing over them
to help lift the wing, are loose –

then, avoiding flop, or roll
you turn and drop
to earth.

© Steve Walter
August 2004