I am first to arrive at the house of a stranger who has roasted
a chicken, pureed kale and apples into a smoothie
and set the round table with three porcelain plates rimmed
with blue for this supervised lunch date.
We sit across from each other on the last warm
day in autumn. The tree above the wrought iron
gazebo drops its small seeds around us. I don’t know
the name of this tree and wonder what that says about me.
He’s uncomfortable with the position of the fire—
the way the wind whips the smoke into our faces.
I’m too busy trying to be good enough to notice. He wants
to start eating and I want to wait for our friend to arrive.
I need this chaparoned conversation to work
because I haven’t done well on my own and I’m too old
to start spending my nights strolling the chain of downtown
bars trying to score free drinks from fat wallets.
Once I read a story about Gautami, a poor village girl who lived
to submit and obey. The prince took her as a concubine
and the son she bore rejected her, but Gautami found happiness
in a hut and the duty of feeding the palace swans.
If only my life were that simple.
~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013