To Dine Alone
Too many people together that first time….
I walked away.
Came back to face the peopled
canvas on a wall.
A waitress asked, “Will someone else
be joining you?” I shook my head, my
voice unfound by fears I could not speak,
and yet I somehow asked for cola and a menu.
Waiting, I bemoaned the fate of having a dark red
linen napkin and not a shred of paper in my purse.
At best, I could write a poem, a list, a letter. At
worse, I could pretend to watch that large TV – a set
with which I identified as I reviewed
familiar reruns of myself.
Seeking the contents of my old leather purse for company,
I found a silken cloth to clean my glasses. There. Now I
could better see the offerings clearly listed, sealed in plastic. A
Reuben sandwich sounded good – food to appease my appetite for
something soothing, something pleasant, but I chose the shrimp:
One quarter pound, boiled, please.
Peeling the transparent layers,
stripping the dark veins
would give me something to do.
Searching again for paper, I underlined words wafting from
a nearby table. I eavesdropped, dropped my napkin, balanced
my checkbook, and suddenly recalled an excessive depository
of bank deposit slips. Tearing one from the checkbook’s sturdy
spine, I wrote on the back these lines, noting my surroundings:
Three plants –
The waitress brought my food.
She asked if I’d like lemon, but I shook my head,
wanting nothing bitter, nothing tart.
Shouldn’t there be crackers?
I dared not ask but saw instead
my tab on a far corner of the table.
How large it is! Not what I owed, but
paper size — oh, such a nice big sheet!
Never will I come again so empty handed.
A man at the bar pours
conversation to the one who pours his drink.
Into a glass, he drops an oddly cubed word,
With mild shock and amusement, I realize
I can stop listening and not even be rude.
I can keep listening and no one need know.
I can keep sitting here and no one will mind.
I can stop wiping my fingers on scarlet linen.
Who will discern shrimp stains on my hands?
Thank God, no one is looking! I lift my eyes
and look around
Mary Harwell Sayler‘s bio:
Mary Harwell Sayler began writing poems in childhood but, as an adult, wrote almost everything except poetry! Eventually she placed three dozen books in all genres including poetry and how-to books on poetry and writing. She also maintains the Poetry Editor blog and provides resources for poets and writers on her website. Recently she collected almost all of the prayers in the Bible from many English translations, paraphrased them into contemporary language, and published the Book of Bible Prayers. She then published the prayer book in the King James Version only, the Book of KJV Prayers.