Sunday on the Danube Bend
They sit, covered in face powder and dust,
far from the window, talking of old loves,
old wars; their crumpled parchment skin
is cracked, their sticky lipstick bright, plastered
beyond the area of shrunken lips.
They drink their coffee thick and black,
and, stiffened with a slug of kirsch,
jet fuel enough to launch a gunboat on the Danube
or coffee drinkers down the dizzy flume
of memory. Their slightly milky eyes, glazed
with past excitement, scan the passing flow
of tee-shirt tourists, see in their place men moustached
and uniformed, women voluptuous of hip.
They smoke, the air around them stiff and blue,
concern for cancer no priority --
without a cigarette, what would their fingers do
to punctuate their reveries? Stabbing the space
between them as they talk, each one intent
on her narration, simultaneous
in gesture, word, they trawl their histories
for one last trace of amorous adventure,
political intrigue. Old loyalties
knit them together, years of coffee laced
with alcohol and passion, smoky, poured
with secrets into painted porcelain.
Each tourist coach disgorges foreign hordes
that stagger down the street exclaiming at
the florid architecture, picturesque,
festooned with arty-crafty souvenirs.
Inside the coffee house, cocooned in tales
of how it was or should have been, encased
in rituals, they mutter lovers' names
and sigh, and light another cigarette.
If you've any comments on this poem, Lyn Moir would be pleased to hear from you.