Ode to an Empty Seat

Rachel Wielgopolski

 

A party of seven gets

Seated at a table for eight.

An open seat on the end where

The air eats extra napkins, dirty

Plates, and cups of melting ice

And bitten straws.

The seat sits the purses of two ladies,

One giving gooey eyes to the eldest

Man, the other sighing wistfully at

Her phone. The latter's leg wraps not around

Her chair's leg, but the empty chair's leg.

 

A vacation of seven takes two cars, packed

To the brim with clothes and paper towels

and beach shit and shampoo. We can't fit another person inside.

We can barely

Fit my legs, and I'm short. It's

For the best that there's no more than seven.

Despite what the brokenly wistful girl thinks.

 

Two lovers holding hands while seven walk to get pizza, two pairs of brothers walk two-by-two,

And the broken lonely girl makes up the caboose. She clutches her phone,

Which is too hard and too cold for her hand.

She thinks of poetry.

 

Two - technically three - more beds fit inside

The condo than the seven vacationers

Need. A daybed turns two twin beds into a queen. One person sleeps in the queen and misses her princess.

 

But it would be too expensive, you know,

If an eighth person came along. The eight

Couldn't pack everything in two cars -- a

Third would have to be taken. And

That would mess up everything.

But the queen-sized bed wouldn't be as empty,

And the lonely girl could start

Introducing family to her princess. And

Money would be tight, but it would work.

 

And the empty chair would be filled, and

Laughter would be drowning out everything

Else -- the cackling, obnoxious laughter of

Two girls. Two happy girls.

But the chair is empty,

The bed sleeps one,

And a girl writes poetry about it.