Dining Alone

Original Text: 
S. P. Zitner, Before We had Words (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002): 52.
1So all of you decided not to appear
2for our usual at the usual time and place.
3No doubt you had good reasons:
4Richard, swimming the Hellespont to Port Colbourn?
5Howard, in extremis with some deadline?
6Kildare? I must ask his travel agent,
7Don, in the boondocks at a robin's twitter?--
8leaving me to face four empty chairs
9and dine alone in the best of company.
10The waiter was polite, the management grave,
11just short of suggesting that I order enough
12for five, since I had claimed our large round table.
13After waiting the canonical fifteen minutes
14for savants and artistes, I ordered in revenge
15what you all like best, then craned my neck,
16hoping for a breathless, last-minute entrance.
17None. A stigma, dining alone, though most of us
18will end so--pray not through tubes--and yet,
19what better than raising chopsticks to one's lips
20with the choice bits of every dish that pleases,
21and without the distraction of half-chewed talk,
22thinking fondly of our absent friends,
23yet not missing them too much,
24supposing they are at other pleasures.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © McGill-Queen's University Press and used with its generous permission and with the agreement of Fred Tronly, the Poet's literary executor.
Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained in writing.