After Six Months of Emails, I Have Dinner with the Much Older Man

Erin Elizabeth Smith

The first night I met him,

I was sixteen and slender

as water. I rubbed

at the wine glass, tinny

with ice, but did not make

it sing. I felt how large

his hand was, the veined

knuckles flecked with age

in the warm low light.

I turned my lettuce

over and over,

which was almost like eating.

After, he wrapped me

in his car, secreted me

to the hotel where the bed

was tight as new jeans.

On the walls, framed women

lounged in gardens,

their faces a Victorian pastel,

while the clock blinked

its stormy numbers.

I sat on the edge

of the bed, feet dangling

as clothes do from lines,

until he lowered himself

onto me, those fingers

on my back closing

and opening until

something in me lit,

expired bottle rockets

igniting in a bag. I swallowed

down a feeling of bees,

a swarming that churned

through me each time

I opened my eyes

to his hungry mouth

that spread so wide

I wondered if the world

was made only of sticks,

of straw.


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