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A Dark Red
by David Matthews

Saturday evening on Hawthorne
I stop for dinner
Wherever I might spot
An empty table.
My wandering gaze falls
On a young woman whose tattoo
Creeps up from a low-cut blouse,
Something blue and abstract,
So much for what is visible.

A young fellow with an accordion
Takes seat at a sidewalk table
And lights a cigarette.
Nearby two woman with Italian accents converse.
Back down and past the river,
The sun in a splash of color
Creeps below the West Hills.

I can almost make out
The label on the bottle
In the light of the flickering candle.
The waitress pours a taste into the glass.
I swish it around in my mouth,
Assure her it will do just fine.
I am going to be here for a while.
She turns away,
Perhaps reassured by the tone of my voice,
The glimmer of a passing smile,
A demeanor of Scandanavian winter,
Finnish vodka,
Film in all the lost glory of black and white.

More likely she is indifferent to it all,
Her own night to get through.
It is a quiet night in a quiet place,
Not particularly crowded,
And no one seems too particular about anything.
I top off the glass,
A dark red, reassuring in its substantiality,
My thoughts a tempest of wheat fields in the wind,
A cloud of ravens on the wing . . .

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