Falling in love, Dan thought. People had told stories, sung songs, written about it for… God knows how long. Millions of words. First sight, first touch, first embrace; first salty horizontal taste of sweat in the hollow of the throat. But what about falling out of love? The coup de foudre which left the previous day’s passion thin and cardboard stiff, even the memory of it beyond belief. Where were the songs and the stories about that?
Like some pale shepherd, he could still remember the moment love lifted from his shoulders, leaving the vacant chill of a schoolboy’s new haircut. He had been leading a 9am seminar, not Herrick but another lusty boyo; fielding a question, throwing it open to the group, running his eye over the thicket of earnest faces.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age;
It was too early in the morning for the geyser of Celtic passion. His students looked pale and deflated. Many of the girls had skipped eye shadow and made do with a shower. Most of the boys had skipped the shower. They looked at their books, at their notes. One was drawing on the back of his hand with a felt tip.
“If you can spare us a moment, Mr Richardson,” Dan said. “Come on. You’re a custodian in the vast library of world literature. The stacks fade into the dark in every direction. Some are bright with use; on most of them you could write your name in the dust. Where do you put this poem?”
“I don’t know.” The boy looked up from his artwork. “Under H for Horticulture?”
Dan joined the laughter that followed.
But he thought: He’s right. What on earth is this Welsh buffoon going on about?