After a Dinner
Easy air is serpentine along the floor
Before curling upward, like invisible flames.
You sit there, and you sit among them, eyes smiling at an anecdote.
There must be a man outside the frame, like me
Looking at this pictured stillness.
The dinner is over. Has he proposed a toast to your glamour and grace?
And what is the dessert? Is that man like me, over 38, who can talk
In another language about a woman poet who committed suicide 38 years before?
Was he, too, born into a country that persistently educated him
Not to believe in karma or samsara.
You turn your head like avoiding the mesmerizing music,
As if you will not be resigned to its hidden call. You raise the goblet
And pronounce, “You’d better believe.” And then a blankness
Settles into the pause. “Maybe it is mere superstitious, and next year
You may consider it coincidental, and who could tell
The year after the next?”
He says, “This wine is mellow and crisp, a superb aftertaste.”
And he takes another sip, “I would.”
As you lean back on the chair, the curtain flowers are folding tighter.
He looks over your shoulder. The streetlight is still and thick.
This was first written in 2003, and its revised version in 2006 was published in Ivory Poetry (USA) with a Chinese version. The present version is a truncated one.