Pauses the Fly

A restaurant patio under a shady oak, the sun beaming, a fence laboring under a mass of Star Jasmine in fragrant bloom. I’m lunching with a buddy. Our waiter, a bit too eager to please. A salad, now dispatched. What’s left of a glass of wine. What now. A soft lump appears on the tip of my tongue, in with a sip of pinot. I deliver the lump to my finger discreetly, a wine-soaked wiggly black blob on my finger.

I almost swallowed a fly
and that housefly and I
I guess we’ll die.

Was it the same fly? The one so infatuated with a strip of my grilled chicken? I wondered for a moment if I could pick him out of a line-up. I wonder what it might mean, this intimate contact between tongue and such a thing. The black blob struggles within its liquidy dwelling. My fingerprint is under there somewhere.

It vibrates and shakes the liquid away and scampers around on my fingertips and knuckles. I look at my friend, and he looks at me. This is the way it had to be.

Pauses the fly for a moment
on my nail, then away. A little like us
happy, good with food and wine.

Every thoughtless moment a harrowing postponement of death. We split the check. Our nervous rookie waiter is oblivious to the depths, and obsequious to the end.