The Lal Jomi
Love, before the children thinned your hair
and thickened me, remember where we’d eat,
the nights the Cambridge Arms had rung out their
last orders? How you’d wink: you want to share
a curry? and we’d stagger down the street
to our old Indian restaurant, right there
beyond the dry cleaners and just before
the place you bought me roses, among all
those shops (the kind where opening the door
would ring a bell). How, once a week or more,
the Lal-Jomi would call us and we’d fall
through its wide entrance arched like old Lahore?
The waiter, whom we counted as a friend,
would lead us to a curtained booth and smile.
(Our grins implied his shift was near its end;
we tipped well and we didn’t need to spend
long with the menu). First we’d split a pile
of fiery pappadoms; he would unbend
and put the dips and chutneys out for free,
with wine if we were still inclined to drink.
You’d ask for Shikh Kebab, Tikka for me.
(We fed each other bits in privacy).
We’d order so much food back then! I think
we never ate it all. Can’t you still see
the plate warmers which groaned with meat and rice,
hear the sitar music that would play,
or taste the coriander, pungent spice
burning on our tongues like the advice
we swapped in drunken voices? Yet next day
we would say nothing more than: it was nice.
Oh love, remember when the meal was done
how we would press the hot towels to our faces,
suck oranges, spit out the pips for fun,
and split, so keen for bed we’d almost run?
These days we dine in ritzy four star places
but love, you know I really miss that one.
Previously appeared in Exit 13
Index Of Published Poems