Seems like a long time
Since the waiter took my order.
Grimy little luncheonette,
The snow falling outside.

Seems like it has grown darker
Since I last heard the kitchen door
Behind my back
Since I last noticed
Anyone pass on the street.

A glass of ice-water
Keeps me company
At this table I chose myself
Upon entering.

And a longing,
Incredible longing
To eavesdrop
On the conversation
Of cooks.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Charles Simic's poem The Partial Explanation


  1. Clemintigne says:

    I really like this poem. It’s an “I’m alone” poem. If you’ve ever gone to a diner or someplace to eat by yourself, you feel like time passes so slowly. Going out to eat or to a movie by yourself gives you this feeling of incredible loneliness because they’re something that you customarily do with your friends. This poem just communicates that long loneliness of it, the way time goes so slowly, the profound need to be around someone, or just see someone—you feel like it’s been a long time since you’ve seen even the waiter or a passerby on the street.
    The poem implies that the one alone chose to be alone because “…this table I chose myself/Upon entering.” It seems to him as if “it has grown darker,” and snow falls outside, and he is kept company only by “…a glass of ice-water.” It’s just a very lonely little poem about some guy who’s alone in this dark tiny little world of his own and would appreciate just hearing someone else’s voice, and that’s why it’s so sweet and sad, and yet there’s still a hint of that person being comfortable in it. He did choose his seat after all, and he is drinking ice-water—not hot cocoa, or coffee, even though it’s probably cold outside since it is snowing. He chose to be alone but wants someone to be alone with him—I mean, consider how different this would be if he was with a friend. It would be enjoyable to be in apparently empty, grimy little diner where it’s snowing outside but you’re probably warm. He wishes it was different, but his isolation, his utter seclusion, was chosen, and it is somewhat comfortable for him.

  2. crestina says:

    i think that he is lonly and or just lost some one dear to him

  3. Vasiliky Turner says:

    I imagine the poet is so lonely that even a glass of water seems like company to him. The situation is as bleak as the weather, but there’s the hope of finding a distraction by virtue of the cooks’ conversation.

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