Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax
{first date}
  rebecca van laer

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.