Splitting an Order
I like to watch an old man cutting a sandwich in half,
maybe an ordinary cold roast beef on whole wheat bread,
no pickles or onion, keeping his shaky arms steady
by placing his forearms firm on the edge of the table
and using both hands, the left to hold the sandwich in place,
and the right to cut it surely, corner to corner,
observing his progress through glasses that moments before
he wiped with his napkin, and then to see him lift half
onto the extra plate that he asked the server to bring,
and then to wait, offering the plate to his wife
while she slowly unrolls her napkin and places her spoon,
her knife, and her fork in their proper places,
then smooths the starched white napkin over her knees
and meets his eyes and holds out both old hands to him.
I shall split my order with Dan. We will look up quickly while we pass a dish across the table, then we’ll go back to our tiny, elegant thoughts — thoughts that we’ll mull over while we chew. If we find our thoughts worthy enough, we might talk and share what we’re thinking. If not, when lunch is over and the waitress is paid, we’ll walk to the car hand-in-hand … knowing we’ve shared a meal, as well as, our quiet, delicate hearts. It gets no better than that.