Strangers at a party
by Francine Witte
see each other, polar
pull cross a crowded room.
Rhumba beat clicking the air,
crumbled chips on the carpet.
When they reach each other,
someone clucks they’re perfect!
They hear it circling above them
like doves and they start to believe.
Later, they will marry, and later,
still, divorce. No one’s fault,
but at some point, it all went
waterfall. Fertility troubles
or mid-life doubt. No matter.
One night, years later, they see
each other at a party. Cha-cha
on the stereo. Elbows of cigarette
butts on a dish. She in her only good
outfit, the one she wears for blind dates.
He has done better, younger wife, who is
away on business, second baby on the way.
But still, there is something. Memory, maybe
or just the heart’s ticking desire to heal itself.
Whatever it is, his hands go damp. Perhaps
from a sudden rush of nerves, or maybe
from the sweat of his martini glass,
which is also only half done.