The Sandwich Hour

by Yolanda Calderon-Horn
New Cafe
Second Place, May 2007
Judged by Bryan Appleyard


Eyes draw a horizon on mine.

There’s a hint of sweet tobacco

breaking away from his aftershave,

scurrying down the nook of my nose.

“Mind if I join you?”

Do I mind?

I do and don’t.

But how do I explain with one

hour for bellies to restock?

“Let’s go.”

We head out of the office

onto a sunlit runner.

All the while we’re touching

on summer camp for the kids

and European cruises versus

cleaning gutters on vacation.

There’s an unoccupied table

under the pink crown of a redbud

tree. We sit. I cross my legs.

Topics are sustained with mid

drone voices: the dream of being

invisible; how he almost became

a vegan; why people marry,

(I uncross my legs) and divorce.

It is moments away until

the hour- One round hour,

like a corkscrew begins to top the wine.

I finish my soft drink- let ice chips

skate down my throat. We get up

to leave when he reaches over to me,

but pulls back as if I’m a stove

whose burners are turned to high.

“You have an eyelash on your cheek.”

Fig. There’s fig in his aftershave.


A very simple idea very well executed. This is a narrative poem, a story turned into verse with the lightest of touches, a delicacy that reflects the tentative anxieties of the encounter. --Bryan Appleyard

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