POETRY

Dining Alone

By

Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
      —Isaiah 44.22

In my own city, I never dine
in outdoor cafés, preferring the discreet
anonymity of dark recesses
to hide my blunders, social, spiritual,
from itinerant friends, acquaintances—
the party I missed, the morning not at work,
or today, the holy day, when I should be
sitting in the pew, shriving my soul,
seeking out the light behind the eyes,
the deep charge of blessing, peace, return,
or at least the dream of return,
though all I can think about, as I order and eat
in a rattled silence, is you, how you
left me, how dying ends one struggle
but begins another, and how little real
solace there is in knowing that suffering
is not eternal, that heaven awaits.

Linda Stern's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Criterion, Promethean, The Raintown Review, BigCityLit, and Mezzo Cammin among other publications. Linda organized the Sweet Singers reading series, which featured readings by Samuel Menashe and other notable writers. With her husband, the poet David M. Katz, she co-published the poetry magazine Endymion, and more recently, she was associate editor of the online poetry journal Umbrella. Linda lives in New York City and works as an editor.

In my own city, I never dine
in outdoor cafés, preferring the discreet
anonymity of dark recesses
to hide my blunders, social, spiritual,