Ever looking for signs,
I choose the bridal blend tea,
the heart-shaped infuser,
and, despite its bitter aftertaste,
the home-made quince jam.
Our fingers entwine beneath
white linen. Upstairs,
a cold and empty room,
freshly laundered sheets
neatly folded under.
The landlady wants to talk –
antiques, love – he strokes
her walnut sideboard sensually,
his lips pronouncing
foreign words with easy grace.
An overnight bag is still in the hall;
his desert scarf veils the back
of a chair. Despite her incentive
and the promise
of a continental breakfast,
I can’t go through with it,
won’t wake up tomorrow morning
underneath her salt and pepper tiles.
To take tea with a stranger
is one thing, to be shut into
a chamber, as Solon advised,
is quite another.

(First published in Vine Leaves, Final Issue, November 2017)