by Roland Flint
While she starts the water and measures the pasta,
he sets the table and peels the garlic.
She cuts up broccoli, strips snow peas, readies fish—
he presses the garlic, fixes her a kir, and him a gin.
She sautés the vegetables while he grates cheese,
readies the candles, and puts flowers on the table.
She puts pasta in the boiling water, and fixes salad,
which he takes to the table with the cheese.
She mixes a salad dressing, he opens the wine
and takes it to the table, where everything is ready,
except for the pasta, so he lights the candles
and puts salad from a big walnut bowl into small ones.
Now she or he brings the pasta, greens and fish
mixed in, and they sit to talk, drink wine and eat.
Though October, they sit on a small screen porch
in the back of the house where they have lived
for twelve years of their twenty together,
the last six, the children gone, alone.
Once, during dinner, if they stop talking
and listen to the music, they may, without drama,
hold hands a moment, almost like a handshake
by now, most friendly, confirming the contract,
and more. She is a pretty woman of 51, who has
kept herself trim and fit. He is 56 and hasn’t.
Later, they will clear the dishes and clean up,
and she will bring tea and fresh fruit to bed,
where they will watch a little television or not,
with herbal tea and the fruit. After that, if
they make love or not, they will talk a long time,
her work or his, the budget, the Middle East,
this child or that, how good dinner was, how
easy it is, the times like this, when it’s simple.