Rumours Of A First Date
by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Can we pretend this is the first time?
Or the second, or the third?
That you still speak to me in exclamation marks,
not semi-colons. That you are still nervous,
thrilled at my every move:
How my luxuriant black hair reflects the April sun.
How my slender hips might sit well on your thighs,
____________________________ if you are lucky.

'But we are leaving from the same house.
As usual, you set the password, I lock the door.
I know your every move,
can predict all of them, even.
Didn't I give you your grey-scale scarf
before you remembered to ask?'

But you can still pretend. We can still pretend, can't we?
That this is the first time you see
my cracked weekend lips and want to grease them
with strawberry Vaseline. That you can only pilfer glances
of my full body, not daring too much eagerness.
Small things fascinate you no bounds:
The mole beneath my nose
like a sesame seed on the rim of a dish;
the source of my androgynous earrings;
if all nine of my tiny toes, poking out of the sandals,
will fit in one of your socks.
You hope that when we are walking, I'll be distracted
by rhinos on posters or children in tulips,
so then unobserved, you can observe.

'Do you have enough money on your Oyster card
to go to Kensington South?'

See, if this was the first time we went out,
you'd already be quickening your steps
and optimistically buying me a ticket:
Full day. All zones.

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