Batting Partnership: 34 Not Out

by Maggie Butt

I’m wearing ear-plugs on my sun-lounger
because the test match is blaring

from your laptop while I’m trying to read poetry,
and both of us insist on our right to the garden

because at last it’s summer, and though you’d be happy
to wear head-phones if I asked, I’d still have to listen

to your school-boy cheers or furious protestations
to the umpire; so now, ear-plugged, the world

sounds underwater, like lying right back in the bath
where I can hear: my own breathing, the distant

shouts and shoe-squeaks of the basketball players
in the college gym, and faint cricketing applause

as if drifting from a far-off county or another era;
and when they stop for tea you consult me

about the pruning, and I swim up, mermaid-like
ready to exchange my voice for a dance or kiss,

and I’d like to read you the poem which prickled
my eyes with tears or the one about cricket,

which you’d catch, but Joe Root has just made 250,
so you run back to the pitch and I dive into my book

and hope this muffled afternoon is the first
of a long summer where we can keep

re-crossing on the wicket, and not a warning
of the featherbed silence which will fall  

when the ground is cleared at close of play.