Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



A Little Italian Place

In our hearts we all have that little Italian place
where Luigi ushers us to our favourite corner table
with murals of grapes on the ochre walls
and perhaps signed photos of celebrities
that few have ever heard of
and which anyway can't be seen
as the only light comes from a candle
in a raffia-wrapped Chianti bottle
making a halo where we sit like two saints

here love is simply to be enjoyed and not argued over,
especially when there are more important matters to debate
like whether to have the Tagliatelle or Linguine,
the Valpolicella or Pinot Grigio,
before the world fades beyond the candle's glow,
the shining eyes, the whispers, the gentle touch of fingers.
It would be churlish, crass and rude
to allow even one cross word
for if that were to ever happen
it seems the waiters would stagger backwards
in astonishment, falling over tables,
as the floor of the restaurant collapses
and its walls slide away into the distance...
It would then be a very large Italian place

but not tonight. No, tonight we've tasted zabaglione
as simply sweet as first love, we've been cosseted
in the cradle of the candle's glow,
then helped into coats and out into the night air,
leaving Luigi, the moustachioed ringmaster of romance,
to set the scene for the next performance:
he straightens the chairs, unfurls a new tablecloth,
crisp and white, and places in the centre a candle
and a vase with a single red rose.



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