First Love

By Jan Owen b. 1940 Jan Owen

Titian’s Young Englishman with a Glove, circa 1530

It happened in Physics,
reading a Library art book under the desk,
(the lesson was Archimedes in the bath)
I turned a page and fell
for an older man, and anonymous at that,
hardly ideal –
he was four hundred and forty-five,
I was fourteen.
‘Eureka!’ streaked each thought
(I prayed no-one would hear)
and Paradise all term
was page 179
(I prayed no-one would guess).
Of course
my fingers, sticky with toffee and bliss,
failed to entice him from his century;
his cool grey stare
fastened me firmly in mine.
I got six overdues,
suspension of borrowing rights
and a D in Physics.
But had by heart what Archimedes proves.
Ten years later I married:
a European with cool grey eyes,
a moustache,
pigskin gloves.

Jan Owen, “First Love” text from Poems 1980-2008, John Leonard Press, 2008; audio from Laughing in Greek, Audio CD, 2011: by permission of River Road Press and the poet. Copyright © 2008, 2011 by Jan Owen.

Source: Poems 1980-2008 (John Leonard Press, 2008)

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Poet Jan Owen b. 1940

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Subjects Youth, First Love, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love, Reading & Books, Sciences, School & Learning

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Jan  Owen


Born in Adelaide, Australia, Jan Owen studied arts at the University of Adelaide, where she earned her BA. She raised her children and worked as a librarian, tutoring in the Library Studies Department at the South Australian Institute of Technology, before turning to her own writing. Her poetry collections include Boy with Telescope (1986), winner of the Anne Elder Award and the Mary Gilmore Award; Fingerprints on Light (1990); . . .

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Poems by Jan Owen

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SUBJECT Youth, First Love, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love, Reading & Books, Sciences, School & Learning

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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