Double or Quits
by Clive James
Only when we are under different skies
The truth strikes home of what love has become:
A compact it takes time to realise
Is better far, being less burdensome,
Than that first tempest by which we were torn.
Tonight you’re there, where both of us now live,
And I am here, where both of us were born,
But there is no division we need give
A thought to, beyond localised regret:
For we will be together again soon,
And both see the one sunrise and sunset
And the face saved and the face lost by the moon—
The clouds permitting, which they seldom do
In England, but at least I’ll be with you.
I’ll be with you from now on to the end
If you say so. Should you choose otherwise
Then I will be a jealous loving friend
To wish you well yet prove it never dies,
Desire. Your beauty still bewilders me
Though half a century has passed. I still
Stand breathless at the grace of what I see:
More so than ever, now the dead leaves fill
The garden. A long distance will soon come.
Today, no. Nor tomorrow. But it must
Open the door into Elysium
For one of us, and me the first, I trust.
May we stay joined, as these two sonnets are—
That meet, and are apart, but just so far.