Afterwards, I’ll shake the hand
of total strangers in the street
as though they were my oldest friend
and as and when that friend I’ll meet
we’ll stroll across Green Park towards
Crown Passage’s Il Vicolo
to dip our bread in olive oil
and drink wine till our faces glow
and talk of this and maybe that
as if we had all day to kill
then we’ll argue who should pay, aware
we’ll agree at last to split the bill
and when we say goodbye, we’ll know
how rare and wonderful it was
to be together, even though
neither will say so. Why? Because
why even hint the day might come
when public or private fresh disaster
prevents we two from sitting there
to share a salad and a pasta?
First published in Snakeskin 276, September 2020.
Tom Vaughan writes: “I have a soft spot for Afterwards because I hope it strikes the balance I often try to achieve between light-heartedness and seriousness. Plus it’s pinned in the real world: a London restaurant I very much like. I had submitted it originally The Spectator, which originally rejected it. George Simmers then accepted it for the September 2020 Snakeskin. Shortly thereafter I noticed a very positive restaurant review of Il Vicolo in The Spectator and, apparently quite independently, their poetry editor came back to me saying that on reflection he wanted to publish it, which he then did in October that year (with a suitable acknowledgement to Snakeskin as its first home). Then I learnt that the much-loved owner of Il Vicolo had died a few months previously – although not of Covid – but that his admirable daughters had decided to continue to run the restaurant. So, somewhere underneath the poem, the note of all-too-actual human mortality.”
Tom Vaughan is not the real name of a poet whose previous publications include a novel and two poetry pamphlets (A Sampler, 2010, and Envoy, 2013, both published by HappenStance). His poems have been published in a range of poetry magazines, including several of the Potcake Chapbooks:
Careers and Other Catastrophes
Familes and Other Fiascoes
Houses and Homes Forever
Travels and Travails.
He currently lives and works in London.