During supper at our usual tavern
it reeks of furniture polish. At six o’clock
waiters dust the old piano then serve
wine out of bleached carafes.
Two past seven. Room temperature
eighteen Celsius. Twenty-three guests
order the same main course.
Those seated by the piano need
face coverings. They ask for salt
and spare cutlery. Twenty past seven.
The kitchen door opens
four times in twelve minutes.
There is a power cut when guest B
finishes the lamb chops.
The waiters bring out fire-safe candles.
Guests A and C reach for matches.
© Maria Stadnicka June 2021
Excerpt from the sequence Hermit Age.