Thompson's Lunch Room--Grand Central Station

Amy Lowell

Study in Whites

   Wax-white--
   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:
   "Coming!--Past!"
   "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.