Last Date Before the Proposal
This is the quiet negotiation,
the laying of terms, the unspoken drawing
of the boundary between two sides
that will be reached across but never breached.
The ritual starts at a sunlit table.
Each of us has been here before.
There is nothing to sign,
nothing to bring but intentions.
The past has taught us what to keep in sight.
Over untouched teas, we discuss Kurosawa.
You call him a humanist. I have forgotten his films.
It is not about them
but the way you say humanist.
We are auditioning parts. If this voice softens,
it may be the one to stir awake
and rasp comforts at two in the morning.
And look at this hand—it is scarred from tools,
but trembles to hold the wine glass steady.
This hand will not rage. We know all the scenes
to come, the leases signed in confidence
and the shoulders stroked over doctor’s papers,
the path that reverses in time
to these two parking spots, this corner of the diner.
The road begins when we end suspicions.
We part with a handshake, disguised as a kiss.
Published in The First Thing Mastered (Tebot Bach, 2013)