It's Saturday by Jude Goodwin
He marinates the steak.
That's his job, and his to cook it
over the grill. Her job is to
cut radishes because he likes them,
slice the tomato thin,
tear the lettuce leaves
with her fingers so the blade
won't make them brown.
Sometimes they sing
Danny Boy or Wild
Irish Rose. Sometimes they say things like
beedado instead of potato
because they had children once
and kids talk funny. They say
Gladys Buns because Gladys
always brought the buns at Christmas.
Tonight he sets the table,
puts out the bone handled steak knives,
the old wooden salad bowls.
Then he sits, meat growing cold
on his plate, and listens for sounds of her -
low laughter on the green phone,
the click of a lighter, a kitchen
cabinet closing, a pencil filling in
crossword squares, the soft sigh
of her new wig
dropping to the floor.
Here the mixed feelings natural to elegy are very present. The details – each and cumulatively – are the bodily expression of love, they are its substance and, by means of lines of verse, they become its celebration. All the harder to bear then is the loss of them. The last two and a half lines have the keenness of poetry in the act of telling the truth.
David Constantine, February 2009
The Guardian Poetry Workshop Shortlist