Today's poem is by Rebecca Seiferle

A Table Full of Wasps

Outside the tables are full of wasps, so fervent
with buzz and saccharine drip, while, inside,
I could be drowning in the depths of
the ancient mine, that poisoned water table,
instead of sitting at this table of words, bitter
and blue, where the eyes of the girlfriend of my host
are so mysterious with exhaustion, I search
for some sign of her, some flicker or
bright fin of vanished being,
as this afternoon, in this odd restaurant,
I looked down into a mining shaft around which
the tables were arranged, and was surprised
by the shine of two common goldfish
and a huge white carp motionless
in that lead murk. But nothing in her
rises up to meet me; she is cooler than
the waste water at the bottom of the shaft,
leaking upward, as it does, from some wound
in the earth. Why is such a lovely woman
tethered to such a man who, grizzled and wheeled
with mislaid intentions, snickers after his own comments
with a breathless ehehehe? She stammers
when I ask her what she does—What do I do?—
as if it's years since she was asked, then drags out
the sheepish boredom of her nine-to-five,
even though it's clear to me, it's her labor
that lets them both live in their tiny desert
house as she goes on to lament the secretarial
position that makes her too exhausted
for her painting—her art an afterthought
to his life. I think perhaps she loves him, she says
he reads poetry to her each morning, soft with wit
and insinuation, but, as the evening wears on,
I see the flat faces they turn to each other,
as if masking what's no longer there, the gaze
of a long marriage, not quite the same
as the deliberately cool and measured neutrality
she wears when looking at the man at the next table
or the net of the smile she casts toward me.
In the days to come, I will notice so many other
young women attached to some ex-hippie,
a potbellied, disheveled, middle-aged Dionysius,
still believing that love is free, greying locks
hanging around his shoulders or in a ponytail
knotted at the back of his neck, an aging god
of intoxicants, spouting in public he's male and female
when making love to his wife. Over and over
I will see some she incline her head
in that cute gesture with which a child tries
to curry favor, or as a horse, caught by a bag
of sweet oats, will hold its head still,
its muzzle stealing sideways to lip at the grain
while being fit with bit and bridle.
So over this table and its sweet mouthfuls,
it's her thought that she holds captive.

Copyright © 2007 Rebecca Seiferle All rights reserved
from Wild Tongue
Copper Canyon Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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