Barbara and the restaurant bill


Attempt to pay and she’ll perform
a first rate actress, still in her prime
a histrionic scene: she’ll not scream
though screaming comes easy, in her range

just some expletives, beautifully pronounced
a tossing of the bill upon the tablecloth
a threat to walk or do dishes out the back.
The one who has the language always wins

she declaims, and kohled eyes flash
into the dark of the proscenium arch
where sighs lean forward to be bought
and like bouquets come winging back.

from Red Shoes, Te Mata Estate poet laureate 03 (Godwit, 2003), © Elizabeth Smither 2003, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.