A jackal among hedgehogs. At the meeting,
N. looked around, not sure why him,
why he was forced to occupy a room
with these almost-but-not-quite paragons
of beauty, all magnificently groomed,
but whacked in a way he knew he was not.
And N. knew their grooming was the artifice
of grooming, the way some animals lick their paws clean
after stepping in shit. But they visually appealed
and he didn’t mind looking at them,
one in particular, the more-and-better
of her elongated neck, the kind men sculpt statues
to immortalize, in the row before him.
When her neck moved, the woman’s shirt moved,
lifted to show the black line of a G-string
and the tip of an angel tattoo. N. liked the way
the wing’s veins etched low on the woman’s hip,
the dark lines that arced in and out of view.
He liked imagining the tattoo’s complexity,
the pain it must have caused her,
and began thinking of ways he’d follow the neck,
from curve to hip, cast the angel earthward
before the night was through. Then, N. got distracted
by the pristine condition of his own hands,
the length and width of his delicate fingers.
He thought of how the woman
would notice his hands first, the way all women did,
and how she’d be unable to stop herself
from thinking about what those fingers
would feel like inside her, which would force her
to shift in her seat, which would raise her shirt,
expose the G-string, and play in N.’s mind
like the opening of a sonata, which in turn would
thunderbolt down his torso to the back of his knees,
and, for a second, feel something like shame.
It passed. The meeting broke. The woman
stood and turned. He was already thinking
of the beautiful and various ways he could leave her.