Conrad Aiken


Sitting in a café, and watching her reflection
Smoke a cigarette, or drinking coffee,
She laughed hard-heartedly at his dejection....
He laid his cigarette down in his saucer,
And stolid with despair
Put his elbows on the table, ran his fingers through his hair.
Watching how her lips primmed, dusty in the mirror,
To meet the gilded tip between her fingers,
As the cigarette approached them in her hand:
She told him he was seriously in error....
And noticing how her lips moved, in reflection,
She thought it queer, she said,
That in spite of all her warnings he should go and lose his head.
Just as she was smiling, the noisy music started;
She tapped upon the tablecloth in rhythm....
Were those blue eyes of hers so icy-hearted?
How is it, otherwise, she could not like him?
Women were different, then,
From these strangely childlike passionate selfish men....
She rose and took his arm; they slowly walked together
Out through the maze of tables, people drinking,
Into the windy void of rainy weather....
And in the taxi, sitting dark beside him,
She moved, and touched his knee,
And when he kissed her, hated him, but kissed him, passionately.