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Rebecca van Laer.
“First Date.”

© Rebecca van Laer.
Used by permission.
All rights reserved.

Oysters on the half shell.
Oysters on the half shell.
Creative Commons image at Wikipedia.

She orders oysters, of course I don’t know how to do this,

to slip a three-pronged fork under the white flesh of some mollusk

and wiggle soft globes of muscle from the black mass

of shell, the lemongrass broth the dense gem swims in —

how to pop it

out and into my mouth and then suck, savor the dense slip of it,

then again:

a sequence of teasing, eating, repeating, and this is only

our appetizer. I’m gulping

My glass of pinot grigio, wet fingerprints along the stem

because I can’t pronounce the name of a single entrée,

meet her eyes across a candelabra with the weight

of a fresco above her head, ridiculous

cherubs entreating with their fat blue eyes. Beside,

the dark drapes and the billowing shapes of tablecloths curtain

off any eaves this conversation could fade into, so it’s spotlight

perspective, precarious. She’s tongue

tumbling into me, an outpouring of asks until I spill

sauce, a thin line of it down the buttons

on my blouse — she dabs

at me with her burgundy napkin, freshly dampened

for the task. I shut my eyes and feel

the whirl of the room, the orangey angels and her dry palms pressed

against my chest, wonder if I’ll open up full-mouthed and mind-tied.

Oysters on the half shell.

Text prepared by:


Laer, Rebecca van. “First Date.” Syntax 20. Web. 18 March 2017. <http:// denversyntax. com/ issue20/ poems/ laer/ date.html>. © Rebecca van Laer. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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