I should have known something was up
when we told the host our name, and he instantly
gestured and led us to a table by the brick wall,
as if it belonged to us - now, always, ad infinitum,
as if we were a quiet, gray couple in Chicago
or St. Louis, who have had that standing table
for fifty years and nod to the maitre d with familiarity
every week, not just on anniversaries and birthdays.
So when I saw the exuberance of flowers and tissue paper
my husband had asked a florist to deliver - magenta and chartreuse,
bold and lusty, as if this tabletop was a declaration
of young new love, as if the bee were seducing the flower -
when I saw them, the room swam, and almost in a swoon I struggled
to take off my chartreuse coat and hang it on the back
of a chair. I said, Oh, the camera is in the car, and dutifully he left for it.
He left, and he didn't return. I waited. After 32 years,
where could he be? A siren drowned out the music, and then
one emotion was traded for another. I called him on my magenta
phone. No answer. I jumped up and ran out the door,
down the street to the parked car. Not
there. As if he, like a bee, had made his brief, purposeful visit
and left the flower, alone. Ad infinitum. I waited.
In actuality, it was no more than ten minutes. You see,
he found primroses on the sidewalk for sale.
Primroses, that I love and have not tucked into
a flower bed since three houses ago. Primroses
that were being taken inside for the night,
that would not be there after dinner. He bought four.
And as if he had died and come back to life,
when he returned to our table I was about to weep,
just when the waitress swept up to tell us
the night's specials: grouper and mahi mahi and trout,
and I told her to please go away, we needed no pretty
young women selling fish and champagne. Out of the
16,819,200 minutes we'd been together, just now we needed five
secluded on our island of love, with only the hot tropical flowers as witness.