The cake sputtered cough

is hidden by the hand of polite demure,

debutantes in waiting, in another age,

stylish but now the crumbs filter down

and she eyes another slice of thinly

scrapped bread and only manages a smile,

secretive, she never let her lips show it,

when she bit into the egg and cress on white.

Her fingers gently touches the lip of her friend,

making a show of the mess a cucumber will make

and the table laughs it off, but inwardly

she draws deep excited breaths, the closest

she will get to a relationship in her life.

Each one looks for the signals,

the smoke filled arena from a thousand nights out,

in which they know it is O.K. to laugh heartily

at the stories being told round the square

table, but each one eyeing the other,

a four way conversation in which the pupils dance

looking for atonement or praise, across the room,

round the table, they don’t say a word

till the time

is right.

Still the piece of cress, unobserved at first

is unleashed upon the smile

and the three musketeers, one for all,

quietly judge the errant behaviour

of bad personal hygiene and

they nod in their minds that this will be

the topic of late night texts

and knowing smiles round the office

for months to come.


Ian D. Hall 2017