Le Gastropub, Monday night -
the couple are seated in an empty room.
Large white wine. Pint.

Spoons keenly inspected for dirt,
a candle lit for romance.
Condiments aligned, the battle is set.

The menu provides brief distraction,
studied thrice to delay
the desperate stab at conversation.

The set-price Early Bird option chosen -
beef or salmon, a dismal negotiation
neither party wins.

Slopping out lemon and ice,
the waterjug empties
like an hourglass,

their order seemingly misplaced –
an abyss yawns beneath the table,
a cremated chip falls into fathomless space.

Obligatory cruise on the Med booked;
the children and imagination fled,
infrequent dreams no longer shared.

Finally they rise, agree the food wasn’t great,
scrape chairs too loudly, fumble with coats.
The solitary tealight contorts in their wake.

Departure measured by enduring drizzle,
the dulcet double-beep of an unlocked Skoda;
the slow disturbance of gravel.

Published in 'The Frogmore Papers'