It's not the kind of cafe for shedding coats
despite the crushed velvet
heavy on your shoulders:
the fur collar’s genuine, and warm.
Your hat stays too, its broad brim
an awning for downcast eyes.
Outside the winter varnishes the streets,
contracts the lit windowpane
that frames you with nocturnal black.
You feel it vast against your back,
a sea trawled by yellow lights
barely breaking surface.
You remove a glove for coffee
made tepid by the chill,
anticipate an artificial taste,
wonder as you lift the cup
if the apples in the fruit bowl are real.
Were the chairs around you occupied
you’d ask for an opinion;
or search for someone else who might
appreciate the value of warmth.
Paul McDonald runs the creative writing programme at the University of Wolverhampton, England. He is the author of fifteen books, which cover fiction, poetry, and scholarship. His work has won a number of prizes including the Ottakars/Faber and Faber Poetry Competition, The John Clare Poetry Prize, and the Sentinel Poetry Prize. His academic work includes books on Philip Roth, Joseph Heller, Toni Morrison, narratology, and the philosophy of humour.
The Ekphrastic Review
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