‘If I were you,’ says Mia Culper,
‘I would have gone to hell and back
to say you’re sorry.’ With a gulp, her

partner downs his Armagnac
and stands to leave across the table –
shoots his cuffs, then changes tack.

‘Perhaps you would,’ says Walter Eagle,
‘but – and here’s the thing – you’re not.
And Mia, is a mirror evil,

when it shows the soiled spot
where blood suffused a killer’s mattress?
Or a photo of a despot?’

As if to say she finds him tactless,
Mia shrugs and mimes the bill.
If Walter wants to play the cactus,

she can be the whippoorwill –
the one who bends, the one who twists,
the one who gives when nothing will.

The waiter comes, and he insists.
He always does, his light touch folding
all her fingers into fists

until she feels she needs absolving
from that wince that shrinks the air
around her body. What’s she holding,

underneath the table there?
If I was Walter, I’d be running,
but, of course, I am elsewhere

as Mia, with a speed that’s stunning,
makes it harder to avoid
what is, and what is not, the done thing.