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   e m b a r r a s s m e n t

--- G R E G O R Y   D J A N I K I A N

Itís the testimonial you give
at the retirement party
which ends on a poetic flourish --
It is Margaret you mourn for --
which seems suddenly, entirely wrong
for a bon voyage,
what were you thinking?

Itís the worst move at the father-son basketball game, the clumsy blocking foul on someone half your size.

Or itís in the p.p.s. of the letter youíve written her, the joke about the dog which repulses her forever.

What can you say of them, such moments which stay with you like the faintest music?

Or of these new ones about to arrive like a hundred trumpets blaring your wrong inflections?

"Youíve put on weight!" you blurt out, meaning you were too thin, you look terrific, "Your hair is such a gray," meaning look at the lovely color youíre haloed by though all youíve managed to do is part the river of friendship, drowning all good wishes in your wake.

Better not to speak, your other voice says, better to sit with your hands in your lap watching the perfect dancers swoop and turn under the glinting chandelier.

And you do. Until life in her evening dress romps about you again forgetting who you are, forgiving you the stained tie or the champagne glass sticking out of your pocket

or the way you keep calling her Marguerite, which she seems to like though itís not her name, or a name sheís ever been called.

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