Poem In Which Eric Cantona Graces You With His Presence

Eric Cantona enters the café you work in
wearing a cravat & you almost genuflect
remembering how you wore the collar up
on your school polo shirt for a whole year.
Eric Cantona – taller than you imagined –
takes a seat, draws a volume of Rimbaud
from an attaché case. Cantona says garcon
& you splutter like a fool, say pardon,
taking his order for peppermint tea
which until now has never made you think
of wintergreen and the pinkness of flesh
on March morning. You bring his tea
& say you loved his part in Elizabeth
Eric Cantona’s reply is exquisitely gracious.
You feel his grace innate. Eric Cantona
with a brow like an ox giving off the glow
of Eric Cantona. Eric Cantona’s mouth mimics
the words he reads but you don’t mind.

O Eric, your body swayed to football.
I’d bow my head or wash your feet,
or ask to take your coat to see
if the number seven’s on your shirt,
something indelible, something to mark
that you were better than the best,
than George Best, Ronaldo, Beckham or Scholes.
Eric, you were best at all you did. I whisper
exit Eric Cantona as Eric packs his things & leaves.

Stephen Connolly

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