Spring 2010 • Vol. XXXII No. 2 Poetry |

Starting Over after Long Estrangement

To all appearances they are having dinner, the two women sitting halfway back along the left wall of the Caffe Grazie. They've come from the museum where they wandered side by side, as they used to years ago, talking diagonals, frontal planes, brush work. Now they are face to face. They raise their glasses, sip, laugh, dip pieces of bread in olive oil, give serious study to the menu, talk lobster and coriander reduction, the earthiness of cauliflower custard. Light from votive candles wavers over them. The past is not mentioned. It has been declared off-limits. It is not clear by which one, but it sits between them, a black hole, its gravitational field waiting to suck them in. But it won't. They are here "getting on with their lives," "without the baggage of the past," without amends, talking salad composé, talking pumpkin polenta, talking potato gnocchi, waving their arms across the unbridgeable abyss, dancing from foot to foot, calling "Mother! Mother

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