Between us like a winter beach
lies a blank expanse of table
where hands do not reach out
to each other, but fidget alone.
The restaurant is full and bright
with the loudness
of other people’s chatter.
Unintended, our conversation turns sour
and we hurt each other as only lovers can
until interrupted by the politely neutral staff.
(He feels them judging him harshly, as if
he is responsible for my tears – for they
do not know
that I am only crying to make him feel bad.)
They set out an embarassment of food
to tempt appetites numbed by misery
Eyes bigger than our hearts.
(He does not see how I look down,
trying to stop my tears, and hide
my swollen eyes
from the waiters’ curious stares.)
Patatas bravas have lost their fire.
Salad, unnoticed, melts into limpness.
His fingers rip the carapace
from the tender flesh of a prawn
and lemon and chilli and salt
to sting his tearing fingers.
The feast is left uneaten
and words are left unspoken.
Now the rumpled cloth between us
is scattered and stained
with the fragments of our argument,
with my hopeless tears.
No more reason to wait,
for there’s nothing left to say.
We leave together already separate.
Half a hug, a brief, one-sided kiss.
“Be well, my love,
until (if ever)
we can bear to meet again.”
My attitudes have changed strangely over recent months. I used to write poetry about my break-up because I needed to express the painful emotions. Now I find myself deliberately going back to those difficult times because I see what a rich and fertile vein of inspiration they are for writing poetry, and I want to make good use of these emotions and experiences while I still remember them. Quite a change!
This poem is a pretty accurate description of the last evening I spent with my ex. Obviously it’s mostly viewed from my side, though the views in the first parenthesis are, according to later e-mail and IM exchanges, an accurate description of what my ex was thinking.
The photo is by Mistereff at flickr.