30 october 2022
With thanks to the poet Victor Taylor for reviving the notion on which this was based, 40 something years after its conception.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet, painted 1882; image sourced from Wikipedia.

serving in that cafe….
fourty something years
i left her to lean across tables,
since first i thought her
on an afternoon, the hem
of her smock against thighs
stockinged in glow, a line
of unforgetfullness, her skin
the barest pouring of touch
for she was fully imagined as
eternal self, the soul watching me
as i watched her across tables,
her thighs sketched through linen
smock, seeing her a busy, bustling
body only, rustling its starched dress
as she went to lift my plate
away, saying, “i see you’ve
been watching me for a divine
revelation, like buttons come
undone’, i smiled the best awkward
at her i could, so she was the deeper
me, the soul with blue in her eyes,
while mine were brown, any
buttons undone would be my
own undoing, she said i was
lucky beyond measure to meet
with her, in a setting laid intimately
neat like silverware…..
fourty something years i left her
leaning in her smock across that
table to gather up plates, a young
woman as young as i was young,
perhaps even younger, hair
cut short, a serious face absorbed
in its orientations among becrumbed
tablecloths and crockeries, and i
could not take my distant eyes off
her as my girlfriend talked, and i
wondered if i could rescue that
her, the sublimely other, from this
scene as a soul to keep in its
washed, starched and ironed white….
fourty something years later
i told a poet who lives on a
road that crests the hill
of this and he just
pressed me to a final meeting.
“keep it off the page”, he said,
“if you wish the keepsake to last,
approach her”, he said, “and have
that conversation”….
and looking onward through her
eyes now, i know everything she
tells me, for she was ever with me,
never having moved an inch, her
fingers stitching secrets through me,
bemused at my conception…..

Copyright © 2022 Peter Le Baige. All Rights Reserved

Click on the link above to hear a reading of the poem.  The accompanying music is from the final track ‘Coda’ from the 2013 album ‘Coda’ by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.

3 thoughts on “waitress”

  1. Thanking you, blackest of dragons for asking of her. Had you not asked, I might never have spoken. Now she no longer worries me with her endless leaning, the immaterial in the guise of the mortal.


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