At the Farmer’s Inn

Her lover lifts a Pilsner to his lips,
swallows it back
till the order arrives and they move like marionettes,
eat without talking.
Devilled kidneys, sea bass, crème brûlée.

The waitresses angle their hips between tables and carry
the plates in the air,
straight limbed as matadors. Meanwhile, the men in the bar,
afloat on their barstools,
are baying like seals; a forest of black occludes

both the girl and her tongue-tied lover. Out of the window,
behind his head,
night falls between the slats of the trestle tables,
over the scutch-grass
and the sheep, bunched in a corner of the field.

The hubbub thickens the air like moth-wings, it beats
at the sides of her skull.
Meal over, the day’s a done deal – the dawn and the dusk,
the seed, the eggs
they harvested at noon with the consummate needle,

drawing them off like tiny, luminous pearls
from the sea of her body.
Now they drink to the dregs of their coffee, call for the bill,
link hands above
the petit fours while fifty miles from here

along the unfurled ribbon of the street,
the lamplit miles
of motorway, in a clinic, a darkened room,
like mushrooms, very
whitely, discreetly
, the longed-for lives begin.

Julia Copus


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