At the next table over, a man. He is small
of jaw; some might go further--I think
too far--and say "like a rat or a mouse."
But no. He is too lean and upright
and, in his delicately quarried eyes,
too deliberate and attentive: he is too bright.
It is true that, when he smiles--as often--
or laughs, although little sound comes out,
he shows a great many yellowed teeth. But we
should see how rarely he blinks, and each time
dares to think how bright and upright
is the woman across the table, his daughter:
he couldn't be prouder or--what amounts
to the same--more relieved. The feeling is plain
in the granite-in-rainfallen grey of his eyes.
He is clearly surprised at having raised her.
He blinks and, thinking back, he wonders
what it would have been to have been raised
by a woman who … --he blinks-- or had
the strength --and thinks, despite that radiant
glow, of a woman bent over below
fluorescent lights, a linoleum kitchen
in colorless white and green, a white
that can never come clean, be it scoured, the bruised
and reddening silence--no sound is allowed
to come out--the desperate acceptance and over-
exposure to slams of cupboards and drawers
--he blinks-- the flatware rattled, the occasional
shattering glass --he thinks-- of feverish
polish and impossibility of shine.
His eyes are amber and slate --he thinks,
somehow it is not too late-- and the sun
through passing clouds --he has saved, if not
his mother, then another young woman after all this time.
(Edited and begun 10 April 2011; directly inspired by a vision, 9 April, of a patron at the local coffee shop; indirectly inspired--already envisioned--by the bright but clouded natural light, and its effects on the skin of tablemates, at meal 3 April. Many thanks to the visible and otherwise perceptible beauty, so deeply lived-in, of all involved.)