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Bob Hicok

Repast and future

There was a woman in the restaurant, ordinary in dimension and use of her fork, nothing sexually evocative about the procedures of sustenance as she practiced them, and I with good company, movie/book/art people, no great, out-to-sea lulls in the wording of the night, she seemingly also quite happy with the gab and grub, smiles essentially the menu. But at some point her forehead announced itself as a startlingly wide plane. I wondered why I hadn’t noticed it before, perhaps while deciding between the rice and beef this-and-that or as one of the hes at my table said one of the things about the temerity of public discourse that was said, as if any of us are out there, tickling doorbells, asking mothers if they see what’s become of freedom. What has become of freedom? All week I’d been feeling the abandonment of my body by my hips, which seem suddenly filled with rust, there’s grumbling at work like sheared gears turning, and on TV, President Smirk telling me again that my life is none of my business. And there it was, this vast, slightly arching, almond brown pause at the top of her looking, this space of no purpose other than to finish her face, to take her countenance where it needed to go, to her hair, which turned around and went the other way, touched her shoulders with its ten thousand strands of midnight and fell across her back, as if her body were a loop. Briefly I felt the responsibility to rise and kiss her forehead, that if I did not, that was the end of it, the forests would burn us down and toxins ooze into our sex and money realize it doesn’t need us now that it has computers to play with. I didn’t, didn’t drop my napkin into some resemblance of an iris, didn’t cross the room carpeted with dull versions of rose, didn’t bring my lips to her skin as softly as tulips rest against the moon, didn’t, didn’t. So blame the Apocalypse on me, on my cowardice, my unwillingness to trust what I knew, that she’d have felt cool as a glass of ice water an hour after the ice has melted, and the water’s reached over the top, to find the new world, to go about its business of going, and it would have been the start of helping each other, would have begun a dance across the restaurant, everyone seeking some small patch of skin, some truth they’d come to believe, and we would have all said yes to the dessert tray, yes we did save room, yes coffee, yes we’ll come again, yes we’ll have a nice night, yes there is no dearer child than yes.

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