He’s a lawyer from somewhere in the Midwest.
She’s very much uninterested,
although she knows how to fake a smile. He orders
the braised short ribs and recommends
the radicchio salad for her.
He watches her elliptically sculpted ass
walk towards the door.
She doesn’t much like salad.
He’s a dentist from somewhere in the Midwest.
He’s brought his wife and children to the Big Apple
to see musicals and culture and tall buildings.
He’s come himself to tend to the blonde colleague
with the elliptically sculpted ass
he impregnated at a conference back in Kenosha.
The wife orders chicken Caesar salad
for the two to split—just like home! He tells her
he has never really cared for salad. He orders a steak, rare,
and lets the saline juices drip down his teeth.
She orders the steak, rare.
He orders a salad.
She sees no future.
Neither orders the salad
though it came highly recommended by their mutual friend.
They bond over how little they really care for him—
the friend. They live together for three and a half years
in a compact midtown apartment, before they return
to the very same French bistro on 52nd street,
where he gets down on one knee.
The mutual friend is not invited.
He complains about not being invited to the wedding.
He reaches under the table and grabs the other’s hand.
They both order the salad,
deftly spearing heirloom tomatoes
and quickly whisking forks to mouths
before champagne vinegar can stain
freshly pressed Oxford shirts.
They both spend the next week
sick in bed with food poisoning,
all the while still holding hands.
He has saved up a year’s allowance
to take her to the two-star restaurant. They wait
half an hour for the table.
The curt waiter pressures them to order the special;
The table is cleared, the check is brought.
He wipes away tears before going home
and lies through braced teeth to anyone who asks.
She orders the tiramisu, his favorite,
and stares across the table. He used to order it
every year without fail.
She once poked fun at him for his lack of adventurism.
He asked, once you’ve found the perfect taste,
why would you want anything else?
She orders that same dessert every year
on what would be their anniversary.
They sit down at tables all throughout the city every night.
They bring cash, appetites,
impossible expectations. They eat,
visit immaculately clean bathrooms, pay, and leave.
They return home
and sneak into sleeping children’s rooms
to kiss milky foreheads.
They return to SoHo lofts
and leave trails of shirts, socks, and underwear
all the way to their rooms,
clawing at each other.
They return to empty homes
and read non-fiction by lamplight.
They regret desserts, swear off coffee,
make reservations for next weekend.
They grab at something they can’t name,
and instead find well-written menus,
and polished silverware.