Unfortunate Dinner

by Sharon Olinka

Winter, 1973: her gallery.
Margarita smelled of amber.
Daughter of an exiled countess.
Silver bracelets, three on each wrist.
Her hug, kiss on both cheeks.
Allo! Welcome!   Jazz musicians
played at Bertrand’s opening.
He just won the Prix de Rome.
It felt like home.

Margarita’s apartment,
view of Fifth Avenue.
Silently the housekeeper
brought out giltedged plates.
Bland roast beef, mashed potatoes.
Friedrich didn’t like to be called Fred.
Margarita suggested I try the Chilean wine.
Friedrich’s shiny, straight blond
hair neatly parted, to one side.

Now on his third glass of wine,
Friedrich spoke of a country estate.
Berry picking. Childhood summers.
His dear Uncle Carl, who had been
in the SS, who had meant well.
His goodness misunderstood.

They seemed so happy. Margarita
pouring yet more wine for Friedrich.
I almost hesitated. But didn’t. Said “I’m Jewish.”
Their faces wide
with We didnt know.

Outside, more wind.
Gargoyle snouts obscured by snow.
One angel statue caught my eye.

Lips faintly purple.
Sweet smile full of secrets.
Two elongated, pearly teeth.