Hugging Lauren – WOMAD (1990)

Hugging Lauren at WOMAD (1990)
Solitary – wrapped in the frosted isolation
of a magnolia tricked into blossoming early,
slow-turning to swirling Qawwali ghazals
borne on the breeze from a distant marquee:
Willing herself into another time, another place…
home best of all stroking Beefheart the cat,
Lauren wandered the litter-strewn showground
wistfully wishing the whining children
wanting chocolate this time not carob
in matching hemp weaves their parents wore
were hers. Then… on reflection… not.
She spotted a silhouette – a man she knew – smoking
watching whorls of mist uncoil from the river,
high and dry and just been dumped,
pondering the prospect of ending it all – jumping in –
his jagged loneliness mirrored her own.
‘I didn’t expect to see you here.’
‘Need a hug? Cos I effin’ do.’
They embraced for timeless moments… kissed… unclasped…  
As the afterglow faded he wiped his eyes.
Melting into the crowd, with thoughts of Beefheart,
Lauren wiped hers.
Twenty summers after, he stepped
from rowdy strangers’ kitchen clamour  
into an oasis patch where Lauren stood smoking
contemplating mortality – the ‘end of all things.’
‘Party too much for you?’
‘Not very good with crowds.’
‘Me neither.’
Lauren stubbed her cigarette.
Inviting arms spread. For a handful of seconds
they were on the bank of the Thames again
forlorn on a carpet of festival flotsam.
Still forlorn.

© coolhermit 2023
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