Dining at the Red Sea Restaurant
by Tammy Vitale
It begins with the way things drop
from between lips like blue flowers
full of unnamed nectar reminding
one of a childhood memory – something spicy,
perhaps an undertone of medicine –
something hidden. Full of this I watch
transparent bubbles rise
from the mouth of the fish in the octagon bowl.
The fork travels from the plate to the air
in front of me, pauses, makes promises,
drifts back to the place where it began. Taste
is a thing to read about in Thursday’s paper
on the subway when the train emerges
from its dark tunnel. As Winter curls
its fingers across the window, I trace the sparkles
of ice, try to remember what my mother used to say.
Soon snow will come. Already
the birds chide my procrastination from perches
around the wooden feeder. Even the squirrel
has taken to hanging upside down from the feeder door.
Its small squirrel screams echo through my house, now
inexplicably empty except for the purple scarf
with gold threads flung in a far corner.
At the window blue flowers wilt, dry, drop
sapphires onto the peeling sill. By the time I notice
they too are echoes. I toss them into the water flowing
under the bridge the train crosses every day.
The forgotten words rise again and again, but I do not
understand the language; the sound escapes in bubbles
from my lips. Maybe the fish will tell me. When
the fortune cookie is served, it will not break.
Some things are best left unknown.
We smile at each other
and I lean back against the wicker couch.
How does it feel to be deat? I say.
You touch my knees with your blue fingers.
And when you open your moith,
a ball of yellow light falls to the floor
and burns a hole through it.
Don’t tell me, I say. I don’t want to hear.
Did you ever, you start,
wear a certain kind of dress
and just by accident,
so inconsequential you barely notice it,
your fingers graze that dress
and you hear the sound of a knife cutting paper,
you see it too
and you realize how that image
is simply the extension of another image,
that your own life
is a chain of words
that one day will snap.
Words, You say, young girls in a circle, holding hands,
and beginning to rise heavenward
in their confirmation dresses,
like white helium balloons,
the wreathes of flowers on their heads spinning,
and above all that,
that’s where I’m floating,
and that’s what it’s like
only ten times clearer,
ten times more horrible.
Could anyone alive survive it?