Like a cliché or a bad joke.
In a bar.
Where they recognize
but cannot name each other until
it is too late. For the vulnerability,
You know the rest.
The vulnerability becomes more himself,
soft as a fontanel.
The provocation likewise expressing
Until – at the same moment —
they accomplish what, without confession,
they set out to do.
And then want a cigarette,
or a joke about a cigarette,
which the provocation tells,
a two-line gag:
Do you smoke after sex?
I don’t know; I’ve never looked.
The vulnerability laughs, though
he would have preferred tenderness.
Already, that sinking feeling is
descending, like a cloak: One night
is never enough, and
always too much.
Meanwhile, the provocation is
hitching up her trousers, lacing
on her shoes, oblivious to the vulnerability’s
reawakened loneliness, acute.
Which cries out, inevitably, as accusation:
You implicated me!
But the provocation is not having it.
You wanted it, she calls back, already
halfway out the door.
And it’s true, the vulnerability must admit,
but still painful, that
the provocation is like that —
Bogart tossing a trench coat
and a few words over the shoulder as
they part: Here’s looking at you, kid.
She’ll always have Paris.
But the vulnerability is Bergman:
He’ll always be losing it, and
looking for you, kid, always
looking for you.