Dinner at Giocco

Why does it annoy me
that she resembles Joyce Carol Oates
her dark curls sucking the color
from her pale face? Are she and her
brown-coated companions discussing
literary theory; are they debating
the merits of philosopher X,
how his ideas on sex influenced
great novelist Y?

What is it about a restaurant,
full of couples and quartets and
the white noise of conversation,
a story at every table: the friend
in from out of town, the celebratory
drinks with colleagues, the birthday
dinner and first date nerves, tiny
vignettes of other lives,
so much more interesting
than one’s own.

And is some other woman
sitting at a corner table
watching me, wondering who
I am and what I do and who is my date
and what were we saying
when I reached across the table
and touched his hand.

Would she find it interesting
that we spoke of seafood and my ex,
of body language and his flat in London,
or in her imagination are we
dog walkers,
pastry chefs,
teachers of needlepoint to deaf-mute inmates,
members of an alien dining club
exploring the cuisine
of the Milky Way?

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