RG (June 1,1965 / Cheltenham, U.K.)

Rhodes Scholar

Lawrence Hammond thinks he is in love
With a girl half Guinevere,
Half Mary Queen of Scots:
Desperate, in his final term
He has dredged the courage painfully up
To ask her out. Today,
On a muggy late May evening,
He feels not dwarfed but gross,
Hitting his head on doll's house ceilings;
A lounge bar panelled in mahogany,
Jokey dons, and students
Alien as angels.
It is nine o'clock already

And she hasn't come.
Dusk: a chill, an open door,
An antique mirror opposite
Where through a steeping screen of beer
A face looks back, a keen young man
Round-spectacled, in college tie
And Marks & Spencer jacket.
But something, some innocence
Has died tonight: he burns
Less in anger than in shame.
Oxford won't remember him:
He goes back home a stranger
To ponder the banality of sadness.

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