Not His Last Duchess

by Oonah V. Joslin


We take our usual corner table.
We like it there because we are able
to watch the waiters flitting constantly;
observe the dramas of the company
amid whom we dine. Shhhh! ‘Pump o’r gloch’ I
say, and my spouse subtly turns a trained eye.
‘Jeri Ryan look-alike?’ I suggest.
My husband nods. Our game is well practised.
Later we’ll speculate. For now we watch
this mini-theatre on our little patch.
A lucky man — the way she looks at him.
As to his looks, I think him quite handsome.
She, on the other hand, is beautiful;
Great bone structure, flawless skin, and her sole
purpose seems to be to please — to make him aware.
Do you see those extensions in her hair;
three shades of blonde? And the way that jumper
and jeans hug her Seven of Nine figure?
Her make-up’s perfect... all I think to win
his love? Perhaps not — that’s a wedding ring.
Already married — his attention then,
which seems entirely focused on his phone.
No doubt he has important business deals
too crucial to take heed of how she feels.
I see her interrupt him and then eat
a little. Now she leans forward to speak.
He, irritated, turns slightly away.
She’s just another cool accessory,
black shirt, white tie, cell phone; the latest toys
for up-and-coming, executive boys.
She’s standing up. He makes her sit back down;
and puts his phone away but with a frown.
She dabs her eyes and tries to eat again.
His phone rings and he takes it out — ‘Not now!
She’s caught me looking now. I think that though
we’re no oil paintings, in thirty year’s time,
these two will not be laughing, sharing wine.


Copyright © 2009 by Oonah V. Joslin


[Author’s note] The Welsh Pump o’r gloch means “5 o’clock.”

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