She comes behind me while
I’m sitting there at the banquet
and when I realize it’s her it’s over–
over for everybody and everything that’s not her.
the boring banquet, my unfortunate date,
all of it.
I get up, turn and face her,
and she’s dazzling as always, standing there
in that dramatic dress of many colors.
I say her name and she says mine —
the usual preliminaries and updates,
but I know more about her situation than I should
and ask her if I can possibly give her a lift home.
She says no, but hesitantly enough that
I know she actually wants one.
Come on, I say. You don’t want to take the bus.
Not at this hour. I put my arms around her.
Not in that dress.
She shrugs. It’s not about the dress, she says.
But I guess I would appreciate a ride.
Great, I say, wonderful, and slide my hands down to her ass,
like old times.
Don’t. She flinches.
Come on. I take her by the shoulders, holding her still,
staring dead in her eyes.
You know how I feel about you.
You know I would never, ever hurt you in any way.
I don’t know, she says, shutting her eyelids tight.
I don’t know that. Sometimes I just choose to believe it.