Stanza three

The third stanza marks a break in the poem as Lochhead reminisces about the evening she met the man who was to become her partner. The love poem of the title is introduced.

The common thread that links all three events recounted in the poem is that they all take place at Hogmanay, a time of year when we often find ourselves simultaneously reflecting on the year just passed and anticipating the one to come.

The opening of this stanza is immediately intimate and affectionate as she addresses her lover directly while also moving us forward in time - Darling, it’s thirty years since/anybody was able to trick me.

The 'trick' she is referring to is another Hogmanay superstition. Children were told that by looking into a mirror on 31 December they would see their face reflected back as many times as there are days of the year.

The trick is that 31 December is the last day of the year, so there would only be a single reflection.

Lochhead uses italics here to insert a voice from the past directly. This reinforces just how vivid this memory still is to the speaker and again reminds us how much the past informs and influences our present.

The setting is no longer in her mother’s kitchen, but at a party, presumably somewhere in Glasgow.

She reflects that it has been two years since these familiar strangers met and where they did not know that we were/the happiness we wished each other.

These simple lines demonstrate well Lochhead’s particular skill in conveying a mood or emotion without embellishing it with needless sentimentality or saccharine overtones. She refers to the traditional exchange of good wishes and kisses that take place at midnight and how this moment of happenstance and chance changed the course of both their lives forever.