Tony Magistrale: “The Lunch”

2019 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize finalist selected by judge Tanya Ko Hong

While reading this poem, I thought of Edward Hopper’s painting, “NightHawks.” Somewhat dry, subtle, and telling, like reporting on “what it is” while remaining mysterious and complex. The woman talking could be a monologue, because the man never talks. She answers herself, reminiscent of characters in a film noir. The writer used descriptive, figurative, and transformative language. The uncertainty of this poem makes me feel warm. This is the  last line, “…sharing what remains of the cake,” isn’t that what life is all about? Sharing what remains of the cake? This line reads as if, “lets share life together” to me.

— Tanya Ko Hong


The Lunch

They’re sitting down rather late in the afternoon
at the end of a splendid weekend spent together.

Her flight is scheduled to depart at 7:05, and in this
empty restaurant where just enough desire is left

to indulge a sip of blame, a morsel of remorse, she says,
We should have met earlier, when we were younger, 

with fewer moving parts.  The irony is hard to avoid
since he is appreciating her most at this moment:

sitting across from him, a table filled with cheeses and cake,
her long, lovely legs crossed at the knees.

We have no future together, she told him yesterday,
yet here they are holding hands again today.

Am I supposed to go home and find someone else?
She frets into a water glass, the blues in her eyes

reflect encroaching turbulence,
squandering the last of their time together

instead of pouring another round of Margaux
and sharing what remains of the cake.

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