After-workers gone home to their spouses,
those out for the night have yet to appear.
Dining-out drinkers long since departed,
après-show tipplers not yet on the scene.
That brooding quietness, alone with
her thoughts at the end of the bar –
watching, awaiting her man to walk in.
She sips a Shiraz, no TV blares
– what a pleasure these days (pleasure, she sighs)
– nothing to do but dangerous thinking;
chinking, clinking of countless drinks
on timeless counters – when was
the last time she waited like this?
Not once has she cheated –
her husband at work or out with a friend.
Checks her watch, inspects her surroundings;
subdued red lampshades: suitable
cover for whispering couples half-hid
– illicit, complicit – in horseshoe alcoves.
Not many wedding rings if
she dared look at secrets in snugs.
Reflections high and low – of her, of here –
in a brewer’s mirror: a woman
in a dress ten inches too short,
quarter century too late,
squeezes her toy-boy’s hand.
She stops peeking in mirrors, self-chiding
her sniggering: who am I to judge?
The barman smiles, gathers up empties,
his blue eyes plop frissons of ice in her glass.
She shifts, shuddering, could she,
would she, should she go home?
The door swings open.
A death-wall rider revs up in her heart.
She knows, without looking, that he has come in.
David Murphy’s earlier poems, in English and Irish, were published in various magazines. His most recent poetry has appeared in Stony Thursday Book, Revival, Boyne Berries, Poetry Bus and other venues. He is also a short story writer and novelist. Visit his website at www.davidmurph.wordpress.com