‘Encounter’, a version of Baudelaire, by Stuart Henson




Traffic was howling in my ears and eyes
that moment when we passed—she in her slim
black dress, a gloved hand tugging up the hem—
and for one instant all things clarified.

Those slo-mo seconds in a film when fate
throws two together and the soundtrack dims
and he looks back, feeling the weight of time
as it stands still and she moves on. Too late!

Lightning, then night. Lost beauty. Happiness
glimpsed and snatched back—as if a wave had crashed
and took our footprints from us as its wash withdrew.

Where can we meet now but eternity?
Ghost-voice I call out to her silently:
Woman I could have loved you—and you knew!


(Based on Charles Baudelaire's 'A Une Passante')


Stuart Henson

About Stuart Henson

Stuart Henson is a former Eric Gregory Award winner who has published two collections with Peterloo and four with Shoestring Press, including 'The Way You Know It, New & Selected Poems' (2018). A selection of sonnets sent on postcards—in collaboration with John Greening—is due in December from Red Squirrel Press.