We joined you at your table
on the cruise ship,
quiet couple from Japan,
Greek-island tourists just like us
except you were familiar
with an island life
and we were prairie folks
from Canada.

Your English, like your manner,
was controlled and spare
without unnecessary words or gestures.
Yet your smiles were warm and spoke
of gentle hospitality.

We gave our luncheon order. You had given yours
before we came and it arrived ahead of ours.
We chatted as you waited, food untouched.
“Oh please begin,” we urged.
You smiled and nodded, but you did not eat.
“Time will come,” you said.
We fidgeted. You waited
till we, too, received our meal.
It did not seem a trial, just a courtesy.
And we were chastened by our own impatience.

Now, months after our return, we think of you again,
as you are facing earthquake and tsunami
on the island you call home.
Hoping you survived, we see you
waiting still, in lines for food and shelter,
trains and gasoline and news –
with the same grave courtesy,
trusting that your time will come.

~ Joan Baragar

“I am a Canadian writer of prose and poetry whose travels at home and abroad have inspired some of my writing. Japan’s recent catastrophe has focused my thoughts on a charming couple I met in Greece, whose fate I do not know.”

Read more of Joan Baragar’s poetry:

2 Responses to “Waiting”

  1. “waiting” its writing must have been somewhat painful. i hope, with you, that your table mates are well.

  2. chastened by my own impatience

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