Next, Please

             by Philip Larkin

Always too eager for the future, we

Pick up bad habits of expectancy.

Something is always approaching; every day

Till then  we say,

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear

Sparkling armada of promises draw near.

How slow they are!  And how much time they waste,

Refusing to make haste.

Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks

Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks

Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked,

Each rope distinct,

Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits

Arching our way, it never anchors; it's

No sooner present than it turns to past.

Right to the last

We think each one will heave to and unload

All good into our lives, all we are owed

For waiting so devoutly and so long.

But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-

Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back

A huge and birdless silence.  In her wake

No waters breed or break.