The red distance

Her hands rise and flutter
in a quick helpless gesture,
nails like October berries
bright for birds. Words fall
like old leaves; as quickly
as she sweeps them into a pile
on the restaurant table, it is undone
by her companion. Vines wrap
his chest and neck; ignoring thorns
he stares past her shoulder, glances
at his watch. The table
is growing vast; when last
she sees him, he is minute, strangled
and receding on a distant edge.

—Ruth Goring, Chicago IL