A Poem in the Before Choice Disturbs collection


There was this woman, after work in the bar. About
thirty-five, she'd hustle drinks all night--
from the business hours, to the rough hours, where only
cops and drunks would line the bar.
In a tube top, shorts, whatever. Something short. With black hair
tossing first once over a shoulder, then in her eyes. Fingers

adjusting, moving things just so.
I'd watch her pass from barstool to table. Spinning suddenly
an arabesque-- a drink, a pirouette--a pinch
and back to rest on the bar.
I knew her from that distance, later she'd come forth
about her house or her kids.

As I grew to know her, apart from her dance, it was harder
to watch her each night. Eventually, I took to watching her shadow,
thrown by beerlight advertisements in the windows,
leave with some roofer, a pipefitter from the navy yard,
to her place where he'd fuck her not knowing anything,
not knowing about the puddle under the bathroom sink.

After leaving the city I didn't see her again. Don't get me wrong;
she didn't even get my name right half the time, but still in bars at night
I can catch her color. Rare occasions I see a woman with her long hair,
the neon light coming in from the windows; that's when
I'll turn to the wall to watch her shadow hair fall on shadow shoulders.
Wispy. Drifting. Like I'd imagine she'd fall into bed.