11 NOVEMBER 1995, Page 58

Some Sunday Afternoon

Some Sunday afternoon what I should like Would be to drive down in the dusty light To dine with some old girl in a big house, Warm-built, with all the washing hanging out, Where chickens scratch the yard around the well: And a young girl would dine with us as well, Three en famille. Lots of stuff to eat, A sugary vol-au-vent with pigeon's-meat In a red sauce. We take our coffee quick, Rise from the table, put our napkins back, To view the garden with its serried rows Of vast blue cabbages. And now she goes, The tactful hostess, leaves the two of us .To kiss and kiss. The nodding poppies flare With brushing lips beside us . . . Closer far We press than could be thought when on the ear Falls the soft summons of the angelus.

translated from the French by Hilary Corke