The Café Filtre

Slowly and with persistence
he eats away at the big steak,
gobbles up the asparagus, its
butter & salt & root taste,
drinks at a glass of red wine, and carefully
                             taking his time, mops up
               the gravy with bread—
The top of the café filtre is
copper, passively shines back, & between
mouthfuls of steak, sips of wine,
                             he remembers
               at intervals to
with the flat of his hand
the top removed,
at the apparatus,
create the suction that
the water will
                          fall through
                          more quickly
Across the tiles of the floor, the
cat comes to the table  :  again.
“I’ve already given you one piece of steak,
what do you want from me now? Love?”
                            He strokes her head, her
rounded black pregnant head, her greedy
     front paws slip from his knee,
     the pearl of great price
     ignored  .  She’s bored, he
bangs the filtre again, its top is copper
passively shines back  .
                                                                  Food & wine nearly
He lifts the whole apparatus off the cup  .  Merciful
God, will it never be done?                      Too cold
to add cream and sugar, he offers the last
piece of steak with his fingers  .
                          She accepts it with calm
even delicacy  .  The coffee goes down at a gulp, it
is black
& lukewarm  .

Paul Blackburn, “The Café Filtre” from The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn. Copyright © 1989 by Paul Blackburn. Reprinted by permission of Joan Blackburn.
Source: The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn (Persea Books, 1989)
More Poems by Paul Blackburn