Then I feel myself pressed on the gnarly woodwork
of the restaurant wall, inching away
from our table where friends decipher
steak with hushed incisions. Third birthday lunch
of the week, the gelatinous air
chastising me, and I cannot understand
the script of hands in perpetual
movement as if to heed some
divine calling, coaxing knives
out of napkins as a mother
rouses her baby. Six people
together is enough cause for mirth.
How can it amount to anything else? Bowls
wait to be used. Lamps angle overhead
like rumours. By candlelight
I am unable to discern the names
of my friends or tell them apart.
In time, applause will weaken
to footsteps, arms pining after jackets with
a lover’s ferocity, our silhouettes untouched
by squeaks and stains, the aftermath.