hiraeth (free form)

I wrote a tanka version and thought to re-do it, impromptu, free of tanka syllable restrictions 

hiraeth (free form)
from time to time I wonder about
my woman-to-be 
I’d only have to be in the right place
at the right time
for our paths to cross
I would look at her and she at me –
and we’d both know we’d reached
our journey’s end
at any moment a hint of perfume
or song heard on the radio
might trigger the longing
or a smile glimpsed from a bus
or a newspaper photograph
smiles! I’m vulnerable to smiles
heading to Scotland
on a winter evening express
villages with fairy-light pubs
and people out walking
small towns, farmhouses,
isolated cottages
trailed behind like a bridal-gown train
and the lights, the lights
bright windows curtains undrawn
hooked my attention
could she live in that house?
or maybe that one?
might I catch sight of her
on a passing platform
or head down at a rain-swept cab rank
her mind half-set on finding ‘me’?
we haven’t met yet but
she will be on the lookout too
around Christmas time
my longing hits hardest
seasonal bonhomie swelling around me
never touches me
I carry an unwritten mark of Cain –
a solitary walker
legs wrapped in sleet-damp trousers
carrying rattling bottles
of cut-price scotch in a plastic bag
don’t want to get home early
there’s nothing much on the telly
after Morecambe and Wise
and I’ve seen it twice already
I’ll stay out till midnight mass
heading for a pub in the shadow of the Minster
along streets of mean terrace houses
(two up – two downs with kitchen extensions
where a back garden patch used to be)
I glance through crisp lace curtains –
across the chimney-breast a ribbon of cards
a porcelain Alsatian on the mantel-shelf
in the corner a tree hung with baubles
piled around with gifts wrapped gaudy red
the television playing to an empty room
while they are at dinner
gas fire on full
after eating they’ll settle
to watch the Bond or ‘Mission Impossible’
and carry the little ones up to bed
while the adverts are on
my life needs warming,
so does my lover’s – wherever she is,
she’ll kiss my cheek because she loves me
and I’ll buy her flowers, and chocolates,
Kia Ora, and ices at the cinema
I’ll make our lives magical
I’ll change the nappies
and sleep in the wet patches
and not mind when she hogs the duvet
I hope she finds me soon,
the waiting is crippling.

© coolhermit 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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Well told, Rick. I like it. It made me think that there are other ‘wants’, other desires, that obsess people just as much as the one you so brilliantly describe. This piece has charm and maturity, plus naivety all at the same time.

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