We are in a crowd, and it is crowded.

To the right is the lounge where Hank Williams voice hangs over the Florentines' heads. The jukebox plays loud enough to almost miss the smoke and rough conversations, almost loud enough to miss that they are enjoying themselves, very much. The floor is crowded, everyone stands, and light is brighter in the hallway than that inside.

I want to take that right.

In that room, there will be no ghosts with transparent fingers riffling under the linings of jackets, and into open spaces of starched tuxedo shirts, touching and making tender the place that lives below the ribs.

But I am obliged to open the door on left, and I do.

There are four people are carrying a chair holding one person around the room paneled and varnished. There is a toast, but my hand is empty, so I clap. This seems an appropriate response.

There is a cash bar, where a woman in red toenails buys me a drink. This woman tells me about a letter that showed up at a house she doesn't live at anymore. She wonders about the letter, and feels that she might have missed something important.

I come closer to the crowd that I am constrained to mingle with,

and I sit,

and greet,

and there are handshakes, and I feel dirty with charm.

You eye me, under the plaque of a chubby of JFK in copper pressing.

And I you, in the thrift store skirt you bought on our trip to Maine.

When you speak,

You talk, not to me, not just yet

I listen, and taste stray margarita salt from the corner of my mouth.

I lean in just hear you speak, to say words:

low ceiling,

North Amherst,

and semiotics.

We are in a crowd, and it is crowded. People to my sides try to pull in my attention, they have things to say, questions on a history, but I don't notice and I won't look away.

Because you say more:

three days

next month

there is a


and then you speak