Around the time the last wine has been poured a man gets up
from the table and kneels cautiously beside you.
You can smell what he’ll be like later, each evening, when he
has finished his meal, pushes his plate away and looks at you,
you can already guess the words he uses – you look away
and hastily lay your hands on your lap.
In Paris a woman is asked to share her life every minute.
Their existences aren’t cramped there, they are
quick to budge up, sliding shelves empty
for someone else’s things, calling
their mothers with joy.
What you’d like to do now is make an impression. Grabbing
the tablecloth with both hands and whipping it out
in a single movement without knocking
anything over. Everyone clapping.
But the man has laid his head on your knee and
there are gestures you can never escape,
they come to you so naturally.
You stroke his hair, while thinking about
everyone you missed today and how,
vicariously, to touch them.