I thought I was sixteen,
could speak German,
and play Pachelbel’s Canon in D
on the curved and rich cello,

and then
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

I had just eaten a huge bowl of pretzels
and polished off two strong gin and tonics,
alone on the night before my sixty-first birthday.

Not a ravishing sight. Quickly turned off Spotify.

And in that silence, out of the corner of my eye,
I caught the interest
of an Italian, um, classical guitarist.
Handsome he was. And probably a professor as well.
Oh wait, I might be too young for the professor;
I was actually at least twenty-one.

The two of us discussed our fascination
with seeing the original
thousand-year-old Beowulf manuscript
at the British Library in London.
We had drinks (gin and tonics) and bantered,
oh how we bantered,
in the soft glow of the candlelight.
I’m sure I laughed, but not obnoxiously,
and swept back my luxurious hair.
He leaned in intimately to me,
and maybe he was actually Chilean,
for he recited Neruda’s
No eses lejos de mi un solo dia
with a most dreamy accent.
He could say the lines by heart—
the very heart he was about to lose
to me—unforgettable me.

And then
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Why have I taken to not wearing a bra at home?
to pinning my hair back so harshly?
to reading poetry out loud when I am drunk?

Pam Vap is writer and English teacher currently residing in the desert of Arizona. For her MFA, she received an Outstanding Thesis Award from University of Nebraska for “nightwriting: A Collection of Poetry, and Reflections on the Creative Process”. In addition, she was awarded first place in the Nebraska Writer’s Guild Poetry contest.