There is a French woman
who comes each day to the Cafe by my flat. She sits alone,
eyes half closed, lost in thought.
A strong, pointed face and thin nose, she wears red lipstick
matching the red tips of her fingers—in another age, she
could be a vampire, blood on her lips and hands.
I wonder if she notices me studying her. She smokes,
a cigarillo held tightly in her lips. She gives no indication
that she is aware of any thing but the blue linen tablecloth.
Her hair is hennaed and worn in a dated style.
She dresses in black and pale yellow like a Calico cat I once owned—
I had to call Kitty over and over before she would look my way.
The waiter knows her but does not stop to chat. From a darkened
opening, he appears like a wraith, brings her a blue coffee pot
and white cup circled with gold.
Her suit indicates money, and she wears it with an elegance
only learned in finishing school. I pay my check. She remains.
I fantasize she waits for a rendezvous with a lover who never comes.
Hope mixed with irony that she gives into this weakness of wanting.
Jackie is retired and lives in Verona, Wisconsin. White Shoulders was published by Cross+Roads Press in 1999. She received the 1999 Excellence in Poetry award from Wisconsin Academy, Jade Ring from the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association, and co-edited the 2004 Wisconsin Poets Calendar. Her latest book is Terrible Tenderness.