The Restaurant

Saint-Loup-des-Bois (Nièvre, France) ; bar & restaurant, François GOGLINS, Wikimedia Commons

The Restaurant

It had seen so much—
first dates and engagements,
birthdays, and once a birth—
a death, too—no, not the food—

here, weary people had shuffled in after work,
the weight of life like a box of books, heavy and
threaded with old ticket stubs and bookmark photos,
carried from place to place,
but set aside with the coats and umbrellas,
to be picked up again a couple hours later,
by carriers feeling refreshed and somehow stronger–

the empty dining room remembers
laughing children and impatient lovers,
whose fingers parted to lift a glass or spoon–
love, grief, joy, excitement embedded
in these walls, still scented with garlic, lemon,
and vanilla that had floated
like champagne bubbles

to burst, sharp as the chef’s knives
in the kitchen–where unplugged appliances
yet hum, remembering what was, wondering
what will come next.

A poem for my prompt on dVerse. My dad would have been 103 today, and he always took us out to eat on his birthday. I wonder about some of the restaurants we went to a long time ago.

83 thoughts on “The Restaurant

  1. The best restaurants hold memories of generations. We used to eat out a lot in our neighborhood when we lived in San Francisco in the late 80s. Back then, there were quite a few affordable, family-owned restaurants. They were almost like second homes, with us and the waiters on a first-name basis. All the ones we used to go to are closed now 😦

  2. The sadness of an empty restaurant, so clearly expressed, clutching its memories. I was hooked by the smells “garlic, lemon, and vanilla”.

  3. That restaurant has no more customers. A symbol of a dying way of life. All the things you describe so well barely exist any more. Thank you commercial centres, MacDo and the tyranny of the barbecue!

  4. The best restaurants are not the ones with pricey foods (though they can be) or with the fancy décor (though they can be). They are the ones that evoke such wonderful memories as you have done here.
    You know, I was waiting to participate in this one so I could mesh it with FF but then, obviously! changed my mind. Reading this has brought back a few memories so I am going to try to work them into a decent poem. I know, I know, I often say I will, then don’t…

  5. I really like the idea of a restaurant’s POV. This poem is ‘weighty’ in its nostalgia of all the people who had been able to escape, if only for a little while, within its walls.

  6. Lovely poem, like a full-bodied glass of wine! A toast to your father who gave his family and children such fine remembrances. It is these fond remembrances that sustain us when we so dearly miss our beloveds. It is as if time stands still, and the memories blur the passage of time. Our hearts tell time best; there is love, and nothing more, no time piece to measure the beats, only the knowledge that love never ends.

  7. Merril, beautiful words. My father was a manager of several NYC restaurants and due to his long working hours we (myself and three sisters) had the good fortune to dine at many often. One of his favorites was a beautiful old inn in Essex, CT known as the “Griswold.” Though it was not one he managed, my dad loved “The Gris” as he affectionately called it. My sisters and I visited in his honor last year and toasted the wonderful father we were lucky enough to have.

    • Thank you very much for reading and commenting on my poem. And thank you for sharing your own memories. Believe it or not–but my husband and I actually stayed and ate at the Griswold Inn. It was many years ago before we had children. How lovely you and your sisters were able to go there and toast your dad. I always think of my mom when we go to a beautiful old restaurant called Valley Green Inn (though not an inn) along the Wissahickon Creek outside of Philadelphia.

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