Wednesday, April 11, 2018


At Annie’s, a little gay
bistro just off Dupont Circle,
I am sitting across
from my college roommate’s
older brother’s Portuguese
husband whose name I can
never remember.  I call him
Raul, which I do not think
offends him, at least not
tonight as his lithe olive
hand stirs the straw of
a Hendricks and soda.
His husband, a tall man
with soft Gaelic features,
smiles easily and holds
his Cosmopolitan like a Martini.
He is a thicker, more elegant
version of my roommate, and
while asking a question across
the table, he moves his hand
to Raul’s knee.

The other two guests
at our make-shift dinner party
come in like a 1920s
vaudeville act.

The first, a lawyer,
is unpolished and gruff
for this delicate, music box
of a restaurant. But when
he speaks, his prose
rattles like timpani.
He orders off the menu,
hoping the wait staff will
bring him a slightly incorrect
version of his meal, which,
of course, they do.
He does not, however, admonish
them; instead, he begrudgingly
eats enough to be satisfied
but not so much that
he cannot wipe the corners
of his mouth with a brow
furrow of contempt.

The other one, a dandy, is, I think,
the closest I will ever come
to meeting Oscar Wilde. He is
one liners and innuendo.
He sips his Martini like a
Cosmopolitan and fills conversation
with a Southern lilt and
timing forged only in the mouths
of antebellum matriarchs
of Georgia and Northeastern
gays who have slid geographically
and linguistically as far south
as their politics will allow.

He takes small bites of
his dinner and a young waiter
until both are just bones
on a plate.

And I am a guest and an
anthropologist, eating the last
of my steak salad while scratching
Sanskrit fieldnotes on the
cocktail napkins that cover this
place like Autumn leaves.

And I doubt this little poem
shows how scared I am—how
my heart is racing and my hands
tremble like the cherry blossoms
which hang, with their weekend
grips, on the last days
of their season.

Because while stultified, while
barely hanging on to the
last days of the only season
I have ever known,

I am still, of course,
a scientist, and we only look at life
with glass eyes.  We only look at love
with hearts, already dead.

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