Entering the river she was cleaned,
shining like a white stone in the rain,
and without looking back she swam again
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.
Tonight we met at an old school Irish bar and drank drafts and talked too much and had shots bought by a sweet, twitching, crooked toothed aryan from Atlanta. Then we left for a shi-shi restauraunt draped artfully over the expressway and listened to our friend play slide trombone in a salsa band which her husband led from behind his tenor cello. Our friend played muscular horn in a bustier and lipstick and we had only ever seen her in business casual and horn-rimmed glasses before tonight.
I ate red meat and drank tequila which sometimes makes me a hateful malcontent. So I scrunched up my brow and chewed my swizzle stick in lieu of smoking and told myself bedtime stories about the couples around the room.
To my left were the married, childhood sweethearts, ten years later and still in love. They clasped hands and stared into each other's eyes while he brushed her bangs to the side. She wore a brand new silk drop waist top from the Rainbow plus size clearance rack and he wore the widest smile I've seen on a man in years. They whispered sweet nothings and private jokes and their happiness was so palpable I can't even pretend to be cynical about it.
Directly across from me was a couple in their early twenties who had just discovered the mystical joy of fucking each other. They attempted some salsa steps but were more than too happy to simply twirl into each other's arms and smooch and hurry back to the table to caress each other's thighs while the chef seared bistec parrillo on the afterglow emanating from their skin.
I went outside to smoke and experience the dual rush of nicotine and guilt and I realized that I sold myself out long ago when I swapped my joy for an endless chase of contentment. The December rain drenched the shoulders of my wool coat and my cigarette hung halfmast until the wind kicked up and tossed it up the street.
Inside, a father danced with his daughter to the beat of congas and the insistent pulse of electronic piano while Carol blew her horn and everyone went home to full, springing bedfulls of love and 35,000 troops are packing for Afghanistan while somewhere in the Khyber Pass another woman looks up through the rain and we smoke the whole way home, damp and hope for contentment while missing all of that pure, yellow joy.