He hesitates outside Harry’s; contemplates
an absinthe? a martini? no matter
what matters is the girl making a slow
pass across thwe room, her full, red
skirt trailing behind her.
She has the tight sprung look of a young boy,
wears pride like a pagan virtue.
He is almost afraid of her.
So he’s playing it cool, strides in, sits
on his usual stool, keeping his back to her.
Then, just as he swallows his second drink,
he feels something sharp prick the back of his neck
as if twin insects have bitten deep into the soft, soft
flesh — he orders another — turns to see her,
standing quite still, staring. Her eyes sharp
as steel-tipped banderillos.
But he’s safe, propped up against the cushioned
leather of the bar, glass in hand, this must
be his fourth, straight down the hatch, he grins,
almost boyish, shirt open at the neck,
knees apart, heels hooked like anchors to the stool,
he’s no fool, he’ll easily out Bogart her Bacall,
he’s had more women than she’s had …
She smiles, raises her glass to him.
Courages travels the short distance
from his head to his heart. He stumbles
toward her. Still smiling, she moves in for the kill.
2 February 2001