He sat silent on a sofa
between two huddles of loud talkers,
with no idea what he was doing in that place.
He was as still as the December air outside,
while imagining himself
down on his knees,
begging to be allowed into a conversation.
The rooms were crowded
with barely enough room
for him to wonder
if he was really there at all.
He was just another table lamp,
a coaster, a plate of canape crumbs.
Nothing human. Nothing of consequence.
When he got up to leave,
his host thanked him for coming.
He wasn’t sure who she was thanking.
It was only, outside,
in a hallway alone,
that he realized.
You are not fanged.
You are not striped.
And you are far from the bravest.
Your tongue’s not fire.
Your words aren’t sequined.
Silence is the height of your rhetoric.
And here you are,
on that chair against the wall,
You do not hunt.
You are not hunted.
If there’s to be a kill
it has most likely happened already.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.