A new poem by Paula Bohince
His white Oxford is flawless, cuffs
rolled, top buttons undone suggesting sex
as he attends, best host,
to his guests, their endless thirst,
pimping the handsomest waiters
to “friends,” their paid-for attention.
Everyone here is a friend.
Guttered candles sputter in bottles,
are replaced with lit erect ones.
An ancient pair is met, a kiss for each
cheek. This is a place to be kissed
in the city. He checks his phone
fast. Who is missing?
This favorite nephew once fresh from
Art School, nosing through a slew
of girlfriends and boyfriends—
cool, wary. Who makes him laugh?
Not us, not genuinely. He steps
outside to smoke beneath an awning,
squinting again at his screen.
An ownerless cat strolls past, flâneur,
pausing to sniff the urine
of other animals before remembering its
dignity and trotting onward.
Nothing burns. Glasses of rosé
and breadbaskets are never empty.
Is it with contempt when he flicks his treat,
half-finished, into the street?
Returning to us with refreshed grin,
pouring himself a top shelf gin,
snapping at the new kid, on each pinkie
an oxblood signet ring.
PAULA BOHINCE's latest book is Swallows and Waves (2016). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Poetry, The TLS, and elsewhere.