Weekly Poem: ‘Providence’

By Sally Keith

The restaurant owner opened the doors
to let in the smell from the sea
which stuck on the breeze. On the table,
a white linen, a low candle, a tiger lily bouquet.
The specials chalked in cursive we read
from a slate, while the waiter, starched shirt
and folded apron, explained them and we ordered,
at first, a carafe of a thinner than usual pale colored wine.
My mother sat across from me.
She did not lean into her elbow on the table, did not
slide her weight up her arm to make a leading shoulder.
The light in her eyes was first a pool, then a line.
Outside the skiffs in exit sailed toward us.
On the corner a crushed Diet Coke can.
What she then told me, I remember.
Salt was exploding all over the sea.

Sally Keith is the author of three collections of poetry: “The Fact of the Matter” (2012, Milkweed Editions); “Design,” winner of the 2000 Colorado Prize for Poetry; and “Dwelling Song,” winner of the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series competition. She teaches at George Mason University and lives in Washington, D.C.