Breakfast Alone

She leaps down the stairs like a bright-eyed young foal,
With a spring in her step, to the cereal bowl.
She’s molto vivace, not at all andantino,
As she clatters around with her first cappuchino.
“How are you this morning?”, and ” Did you sleep well?
You look bleary-eyed, you are tired, I can tell.
This morning the plumber is coming at nine.
Could you look at the phone, ‘cos I can’t get a line.
And those emails need answering, if that is all right.
We’ve a meeting at lunchtime, and dinner tonight.
And I need to consult you about food and drink;
Can you help with the shopping? Now what do you think?
Should I do my fish soup, or a sirloin of beef?
Smoked salmon, perhaps, as an aperitif?
And since you’re in charge of the house cellarage,
Can you put some white wine in good time in the fridge?”
And despite pots of tea this subdued sleepy-head,
Overwhelmed, mounts the stairs and flees back to his bed.

There are humans who sleep well and humans that don’t;
There are brains which switch off, there are others that won’t;
And it’s hard if you sleep like a top until eight
To remain quietly mum till his brain’s working straight.
But it’s yet harder still when you dear thoughtful wife
Wants to ponder at breakfast the meaning of life.

So I get up at dawn and I silently creep
Down the stairs to the front door, assured she’s asleep.
And there is the paper in polythene sack
Left there by another poor insomniac.
Automaton-like then I boil me an egg,
And I stagger around on my arthritic leg.
And I make loads of tea in a ceramic pot,
Which I spill on the table-cloth, like it or not.
And the dining-room table’s a shambles of clutter:
Sweeteners, marmalade, newspapers, butter.

And slowly but surely the blood in my veins
Is pumped to my feet and my hands, even brains.
And lo! Around nine and in much better mood,
I can focus on dinners and plumbers and food.

January 2004