In blue and white flower-print dress
you look as meager as a handshake.
Around us the city rumbles
as evening yawns above the river.
Dazzled by displays of silk and gold,
we stalk through a department store
and exit into a lamplit square.
You’re starving and eager to expend
your appetite at the coffee shop
behind the museum. Shadows bend
around corners and pool so deeply
we could drown if we aren’t careful.
But the coffee shop’s bright enough
to compete with Descartes or Hegel
so we sit at the counter and choose
among the many soups of the day.
Tomato cheddar, chicken and rice.
Our choices divide us. We eat
with clear conscience, yet you
in that scrawny dress seem alien
and oblique, and I want to dodge
through the kitchen and exit
into the alley where the simper
of hungry rats would sicken you.
Meanwhile you’d rise and fly away
with that evil dress blooming
about you, and your cruel pale laugh
would feel those fragile citizens
emerging from the museum
warped by Monet’s tender pastels.
We finish our soups and agree
they brew good broth here. The night
has settled in to stay so we split
at the door, you catching a bus
to your suburban hideaway
where spouse and children deploy,
and me walking six blocks north
to a sublet with view of smokestacks
no longer functioning. The river
sloughs along. A thunder of bats
folds and unfolds two hundred feet
overhead, and I’ll sport the scar
of your sisterly kiss until
the fresh dawn washes it off.