Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Judith Sanders: Late to Meet You at the Indian Restaurant

We were driving home separately from the body shop,

planning to meet halfway at that restaurant

in the hills behind the malls and dealerships,  

but I got so lost on the dark back roads 

that I pulled into a gas station, an island of light.  

The pumps were deserted, but inside was a clerk, 

walled off by lottery tickets and slushie machines.

Please, I thought, I have to meet my husband.

He will worry that something bad has happened,

that he must face his future alone, lost in the dark.

The clerk knew the restaurant, even came out 

to point:  That road winds down through a tunnel,  

then count to fifteen, and you’ll be there.  

So I drove, and listened to the news, about

the demise of democracy and collapse of civilization, 

head-beams probing the dark like outstretched hands.  

The sun had sunk behind the jagged trees 

in purple streaks, while flares still burned 

like refugees’ campfires on the horizon.

The tunnel appeared like a promise kept,

and at the count of fifteen, there it was, 

a brick bunker strung with colored lights.

Outside was our car, new bumper gleaming,

and inside, in the paneling, at a Formica table, 

there you were, and you weren’t angry.  No, 

you were glad, and gentle, and you had ordered 

korma, and a dhosa stuffed with spiced potatoes, 

with condiments of coconut and cooling yogurt.

The owner, scholarly in spectacles, came over 

and explained that the cup of reddish liquid 

wasn’t a sauce but a soup, and he knew all about 

the wife who was lost, and joined in our relief.

Under the fluorescent lights, we ate the hot food, 

sharing as we always do, and recounted everything 

that had happened since we had separated 

at the body shop a half hour before.  


Copyright 2020 Judith Sanders

5 comments on “Judith Sanders: Late to Meet You at the Indian Restaurant

  1. Anna
    June 10, 2020

    This poem made me cry. I was anxious, waiting for the twist of bad fate, Why was I so uncomfortably anxious and suspicious at first? Trust, imbued with worry, then calmness… a deep breath let out. All is normal, the details of it all come out in the end. All of 30 minutes now a longer dinner conversation. Embraced in comfort the trust and calmness return.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judith Sanders
    February 12, 2020

    Thanks, Arlene and Michael (and Eva), for listening to this quiet poem. Makes me so happy to have you understand what it has to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pranabaxom
    February 12, 2020

    Beautiful. Love and kindness with mouth watering food and suddenly I feel hungry.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Arlene Weiner
    February 12, 2020

    Such a good love poem for Valentine’s Day: married (or committed) love, and kindness from the strangers at the gas station and the restaurant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      February 12, 2020

      Thanks, Arlene. This poem is a sleeper, meaning that it doesn’t wow you at first, but rather it gently accumulates details until you realize that this is a poem about kindness from strangers and the beloved. Eva said this morning over breakfast that she really loves this poem, and so do I.

      Like

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