NPM: Toast by Leonard Nathan


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 roofs

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

in a strange place, still

I say, lifting, this is for you.


From Good Poems for Hard Times: Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor

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8 thoughts on “NPM: Toast by Leonard Nathan

  1. I especially like this poem because I’m from that general area in NY (I lived about 35 minutes from Ithaca). Anything (nice) that reminds me of home has a special place reserved in my heart. :)

    (I’m a fan of Garrison Keillor, too, and I’m not surprised he also liked this poem.)

    1. You know, Heather, I think Keillor has excellent taste in poetry. I usually really enjoy the anthologies he edits.


  2. What a beautiful and rich poem. It had just the touch of romance that I prefer in the poetry that I enjoy, and it was also somehow nostalgic. Loved this! More, please!

  3. Sort of reminds me of the time we were in a very cheap motel and I could hear a guy partying and then puking all night in the next room, and the next day, I tried to figure out who he was! (so I could give him dirty looks, not because I was in love with him!)

  4. I spent this whole poem thinking it was about Penelope from the Odyssey. And then I looked back over it and was like, Actually, no. This is clearly about Ithaca, NY; and then I felt dumb. :p

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