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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 women 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,
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 . . .