Across the table, Bridget sneaks a smile; she’s caught me staring past her at the man who brings us curried dishes, hot and mild.
His eyes are blue, intensely blue, hot sky; his hair, dark gold; his skin like cinnamon. He speaks in quick-soft accents; Bridget smiles.
We’ve come here in our summer skirts, heels high, to feast on fish and spices, garlic naan, bare-legged in the night air, hot and mild.
And then to linger late by candlelight in plain view of the waiter where he stands and watches from the doorway, sneaks a smile.
I’d dress in cool silks if I were his wife. We try to glimpse his hands — no wedding band? The weather in his eyes is hot and mild. He sends a dish of mango-flavored ice with two spoons, which is sweet; I throw a glance across the shady patio and smile.
But this can’t go on forever, or all night — or could it? Some eternal restaurant of longing, not quite sated, hot and mild.
And longing is delicious, Bridget sighs; the waiter bows; I offer him my hand. His eyes are Hindu blue and when he smiles I taste the way he’d kiss me, hot and mild.
Cecilia Woloch is a member of the Creative Writing faculty at the University of Southern California. She conducts an annual poetry workshop in Paris and for many years directed Summer Poetry in Idyllwild. She will be conducting a workshop for Writer’s Ink in San Diego on September 25. “East India Grill Villanelle” is from her collection Late, published by BOA editions in 2003. It is reprinted by permission.