Small Temptations

 

I’ve always loved poetry, and came back to writing it shortly after being asked to photograph a local poetry reading.  This was one of the first poems I wrote after I became enthused again.  It was sparked by a real incident.

She is telling me about her husband’s affair
Shakes out the paper napkin
Places it neatly on her lap
All the while eyes lowered
As though ashamed
A necklace of red blotches at her throat
Belying anger
It should hold my attention
And in normal circumstances
I would have stopped
Mid forkful
To stare at her, open mouthed
As she describes
The final explosive row.

I would have tutted
At his boldness, his lies
As she repeats them word for practised word
Mouth forming a series of ugly shapes
I would not have noticed
The tiny piece of lettuce stuck between her teeth
The mayonnaise that flecks her chin
As she spews out his misdemeanours
I would have carefully replaced my knife and fork
On the just wiped table
Out of deference to her pain
Dabbed at my mouth with the crumpled napkin
Nodded sympathetically
Left the food a partly finished work of art.

Sadly I do none of these –
These things that would have shown
What a caring, sympathetic friend I was
How wisely she had chosen me
As her lunch companion
Someone who would listen and support
Recoil in horror
Stretch an arm across the table, pat her hand.
My fork transports thin slivers of ham
Posting them at intervals through open lips
A cherry tomato pops between my teeth
Adding a sweetness to the salty meat
I pause and grind black pepper
Dreamily watch it fall and settle

I do care about the affair
I try to listen
As her voice rises in indignation
Want to be mesmerised
By the revelations
But the reflection in the window
Behind the chattering friend
Draws my eyes like a magnet
My taste buds, dull with salad, start to tingle
Two large vanilla slices sit proudly side by side
Pastry, golden, flaky, promises some buttery delight
Whilst its counterpart, the bulging custard filling, dense and yellow
Trembles slightly as the diners eat,
Sun shimmers on the lightly dusted tops
Multi layered happiness on a plate.

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Small Temptations

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