At a restaurant

between its kitchen and fine-dining area,
near the billing counter, between the bar
that had a Buddha head between bottles
of brandy, I wrote this

on the back of a duplicate invoice
of a takeaway order (one Veg Rogan Josh
and one Lamb Goat Biryani ),
the distance between a lamb and a goat

being collapsible space made up of time.
I scribbled it after the last customer
(a lazy brown man in a Tuxedo, farting
his way out to the car park) left.

To my right, unkempt dinner tables –
a bohemian battleground of forks and knives –
beside which lay a graveyard of glasses,
the bar-deck. Guinness, Pedigree

glasses, but in posterity empty obelisks –
each representing a moment of that day.
Under every glass a mark: a shape
of its own bottom, the instant

of a beer-spill. A mark that said
I happened here. I used an odorous rag
to erase them, before I tallied the day’s
business into profit and pretence.

 

Shriram Sivaramakrishnan is a proud alumnus of Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His poems have recently appeared in Allegro, Coast to Coast to Coast, among others. His debut pamphlet, Let the Light In, was published by Ghost City Press this June.