Only A Novel

A Poem: Toast by Leonard Nathan

Posted in Poetry by onlyanovel on January 17, 2008

Good Poems for Hard TimesWhen I first read this poem, it immediately resonated with me. I will not succumb to the temptation of explaining why I like this poem, or any poem I post, because that will defeat the purpose of my posting it. Readers are welcome to discuss, of course. ;)

I first came across this poem while I was browsing the book Good Poems for Hard Times, compiled by Garrison Keillor. I don’t own the book, but from time to time I browse through it when I’m at a bookstore. One time, when I was at Border’s and having a snack of sandwich and coffee, I looked up this poem again in the book and copied it on a piece of napkin. Here it is. Enjoy.

Toast
Leonard Nathan

There was a woman in Ithaca
who cried softly all night
in the next room and helpless
I fell in love with her under the blanket
of snow that settled on all the roots
of the town, filling up
every dark depression.

Next morning
in the motel coffee shop
I studied all the made-up faces
of women. Was it the middle-aged blonde
who kidded the waitress
or the young brunette lifting
her cup like a toast?

Love, whoever you are,
your courage was my companion
for many cold towns
after the betrayal of Ithaca,
and when I order coffee
in a strange place, still
I say, lifting, this is for you.

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4 Responses

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  1. Ms. Place said, on January 17, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Lovely poem. Thank you for sharing. It started my day out just right.

  2. onlyanovel said, on January 17, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Glad you liked it, Ms. Place!

  3. mhike palanca said, on November 24, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    we discussed this poem in my creative writing class a while ago. very nice poem :D

  4. barry herzog said, on May 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Cathy read it to us in the writing workshop last Wednesday, a hush falling over the room. We debated if the “Ithaca” in the poem is in Greece or upstate New York. I voted for New York, then wrote something funny to ease the pain


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