I helped with their coats, Cowboy and two women,
set his felt Stetson on the rack, crown down,
careful not to flatten the rim, and he smiled.
One woman, white Shoulders encased in red satin,
held at his elbow.
Reservation for Conrad at seven.
I seated the three at a table by the fire,
Cowboy in the center, Shoulders to the left
and the other, a Redhead, on his right.
Another log for the fire.
Shoulders studied the wine list.
Redhead blew smoke down the length of a cigarette.
The fire flickered, blazed up in the Cowboy’s eyes.
F minor scale notes fell down my back.
At the coat rack, Cowboy’s jacket hung short,
blue fur at the collar, between Redhead’s,
short and black, and Shoulder’s, long, red, and slick.
Cowboy ordered Escargot, Veal à la Crème,
and I thought about the shotgun that surely hung
in the window-rack of his blue extended cab outside.
The ladies ordered Medallions of Beef Tenderloin.
In the kitchen, the waitress told me Cowboy wore a toupee,
and that she was to please remember
that the night was a surprise for Redhead, her birthday.
The reservation said she was to be dressed in sky blue.
She was, and she sprinkled salt on her fork of Escargot,
drank down Brandy Alexanders, three of them,
through a straw, ordered yet another.
She ate salad: cucumber, romaine, and potato while I watched
and thought how biologists can analyze undigested plant cells
just as lab techs can match teeth to dental X-rays.
Toupee Cowboy left the table for the men’s room;
the women leaned together, talked quickly,
and then sat back straight and silent to wait.
Shoulders stared at her bread, reached to tear a piece off.
Coming back, Toupee Cowboy rubbed his hands,
one across the other, a horizontal movement,
and said so I could hear, Maybe we could fly to Paris tonight.
Biting at the meat speared on her fork, Redhead didn’t look up,
and I swear I saw tremors take over the smooth of her white shoulders.