I always keep averting my eyes from who
I am. I don’t know whether this is true
Of everyone I know sitting beside me
At dinner at a restaurant or at
A family gathering, although I wonder
What it means that the word "gathering" means,
Or what it means to each of us sitting here,
Or who it is who's sitting here beside me.
I don't know who you are or who I am.
Friendship ought to be, and so it is,
A ritual at dinner for doing the work
Of defining who we are, carefully so
We negotiate the terms with mutual
Respect, and the word "respect" means trying
To figure it out in what we say at dinner,
Acknowledging our mutual confusion.
We say "good night." It's a wonderful thing to say.
It assents to the fact that we go to sleep alone.