Thompson's Lunch Room--Grand Central Station

Amy Lowell

Study in Whites

   Floor, ceiling, walls.
   Ivory shadows
   Over the pavement
   Polished to cream surfaces
   By constant sweeping.
   The big room is coloured like the petals
   Of a great magnolia,
   And has a patina
   Of flower bloom
   Which makes it shine dimly
   Under the electric lamps.
   Chairs are ranged in rows
   Like sepia seeds
   Waiting fulfilment.
   The chalk-white spot of a cook's cap
   Moves unglossily against the vaguely bright wall--
   Dull chalk-white striking the retina like a blow
   Through the wavering uncertainty of steam.
   Vitreous-white of glasses with green reflections,
   Ice-green carboys, shifting--greener, bluer--with the jar of moving water.
   Jagged green-white bowls of pressed glass
   Rearing snow-peaks of chipped sugar
   Above the lighthouse-shaped castors
   Of grey pepper and grey-white salt.
   Grey-white placards:  "Oyster Stew, Cornbeef Hash, Frankfurters":
   Marble slabs veined with words in meandering lines.
   Dropping on the white counter like horn notes
   Through a web of violins,
   The flat yellow lights of oranges,
   The cube-red splashes of apples,
   In high plated 'epergnes'.
   The electric clock jerks every half-minute:
   "Three beef-steaks and a chicken-pie,"
   Bawled through a slide while the clock jerks heavily.
   A man carries a china mug of coffee to a distant chair.
   Two rice puddings and a salmon salad
   Are pushed over the counter;
   The unfulfilled chairs open to receive them.
   A spoon falls upon the floor with the impact of metal striking stone,
   And the sound throws across the room
   Sharp, invisible zigzags
   Of silver.