Mme. took the class to the cinema one afternoon
to see Alain Delon. I remember the Odeon smelled
of Players; the usherette against the wall in impossible
heels, one shoe on peeled paint and plaster;
the strap of the tray raw on her shoulders,
her hands rubbing and kneading the joints; the shift
of weight to the other foot. Six rows back
I don’t remember how bored she looked at the time
or the face of the man who leaned in too close
as he paid for his ice. I don’t remember when
I stopped reading the sub-titles, or when I bit
my lip so hard it bled, but I do remember
the metallic taste. The man and the woman
stared out of the window, the bed unmade,
his shirt casting its shadow over the chair.
And no one spoke much, exhaled in short asides,
smoke taking the place of words. I remember
the school bus, the older girl allowing
the conductor to open a button on her blouse,
to lift up the collar; the exclusion of laughter.
I remember the long walk home from the stop
my tongue opening the cut, tasting it over again.