Lunching With Lola

By Penelope Karageorge

Just when frivolity's demanded,
         witty repartee glistening with well-voweled,
lipsticked words, why do I want to weep into
         the soup? Lunch out makes me solemn,
this early-century ritual, hot breathy metaphor
         for life with its beginning, middle and
end, all set on a tiny stage, and
         I play queen, lunching with Lola.

We crack the scripts. I break the ice.
         I've this yearning in me, I cry,
for white gloves and Cuban heels and love.
         At midday beef stew fills me with despair.
Lola's laughter splinters glass. That's not it,
         says she, throwing her head back to deposit an
olive pit in my plate. Keep that in mind,
         the detritus of betrayal, your ex-husband's
remarriage, sneakered feet and Plath.
         I toss a roll and it bounces off her
forehead. Ooch, says Lola, unamused.
         So many things happening and not,
connections barely made over the menu
         which wears maroon tassels, like a graduation cap
or a chorus girl's bra. Rolling under the table,
         I drape cloth over my head until
a waiter pulls me out by my feet, careful not
         to snag nylons. Seated again, transfused
with ice water and potage du jour, I read
         portents in the bread basket, observe spies
at the next table. Vanilla ice cream, I shout, its
         truth. Classic as the Parthenon. A bearded
ventriloquist attaches strings to m arms
         and moves them up and down. Did I speak
wrong? There's something on your chin, Lola says.
         The fish arrives without a head.

I bend to kiss Lola's upper hand but she
         retracts it. I squirm and twirl
and swirl and bite. We pat our lips with cloth
         and touch our faces. Lola urges
chocolate mousse and forks me. Blood trickles.
         She'll pay. Next time I treat.

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About Penelope Karageorge

A prize-winning poet, Penelope Karageorge cultivates wide-ranging literary interests. Her new poetry collection, The Neon Suitcase, was just published by Somerset Hall Press. Her first poetry collection, Red Lipstick and the Wine-Dark Sea, was published by Pella Publishing. Her poetry has been collected in ten anthologies including Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry; The Literature of Work (University of Phoenix Press); and Literal Latte: The Anthology. She is the author of two novels, Murder at Tomorrow (Walker Publishing) and Stolen Moments (Pinnacle Books), which was published in England as Winners and in Germany as New York, New York. A former Newsweek reporter and publicity director of People magazine, as a freelance journalist she writes frequently about the arts, personalities and popular culture. A graduate of Simmons College, she earned a Master’s Degree in English from the City University of New York, where she was an adjunct professor of English. She is director of The Greek-American Writers Association. She grew up in Newburgh, New York, and lives in Manhattan. A first-generation Greek-American, she summers on the Greek island of Lemnos. Her film script, a romantic comedy, Drinking the Sun, set on Lemnos, will be produced in 2016.

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