It started when the waiter saw me look down as though a meteor
lay burning through the table cloth.
His eyebrows ran together
in a line and, as if playing a game,
his fingers rippled through the air above the salt.

Another appeared on my left side, introduced himself as
‘Franco’, rolled his name like a conjuror, pulled out
a napkin, did it so fast I thought he must have
injured himself,
thought the red linen would splash me,
mark me
in a way I did not want to be
Not then.
In three oval bowls of warm water,
slices of unpeeled lemon cling to the surface.
I do not understand anything in the menu,
must have read it three or four times.
This is where we go for tapas and I know now
this means ‘lid’.
On this night, words are thin shapes
black, hanging and ridiculous.
French beans. Catalan ham, Dinner. Lunch. Private Functions.
The wine list, wrapped in padded, buttoned red leather.
The gilt chair. A darkness of velvet. Was it curtains or cushions?
I try to keep
from running
back there,
to the room with hissing door hinges,
clear tubes,
the sound of breathing that is not the breath of life to me
any more than it would be to him.

That noise has become our song,
the reason we know where we are. That’s why people have songs,
isn’t it,
to take them to the same place, at the same time?

Would it seem, somehow awkward
or out of place to slide
across the floor,
over the veined cream tiles,
avoid the three legged barstools,
to push the impossible glass door,
pause at the astonished face
of the girl who took our coats,
to explain,
‘Tonight, I cannot eat calamari,
tonight I cannot eat chorizo?
I don’t care that tonight’s
tortilla is fresh,
layered with onion and almost absurdly yellow.
I know the aubergines were
smoked this evening and the flat-bread,
spread with concass of green tomatoes and toasted halloumi,
was once
a Moorish delicacy.
Put my coat away,
or put it on,
throw it into the street.
I don’t care.
My father never liked it.
He is dying, he is dying, dying tonight. He may even be
doing it

(Rosie Shepperd)


April 24, 2014