Crystal

Mark Pajak

Last orders. I put my cloth to a misty wineglass
and twist the shine in like a lightbulb.

At the end of my bar, a girl. Maybe twenty.
Her back turned on her pint, and a man’s hand

spilling a powder. A hiss from an envelope
like a slow fuse. Her lager’s fine chains of fizz

suddenly shake until all the liquid is the white tail
of a rattlesnake. But it’s late. So I hold up

the wineglass. Fill it with the bar’s dirty light.
Hang it on the rack where it slides to snap

against the bowl of another. That chime;
the sound of glass almost breaking. I slowly

twist and hang, twist and hang, with such
crystal concentration I nearly don’t notice

when she finally stands to leave. Her spine wags
and is steadied by a man’s hand. The last wineglass

is hung. Upside down, they are a line of bells
without tongues. Clear now. When she turns

her face on his shoulder, she is younger than
eighteen. They leave behind her pint glass.

A last dreg. A spray of white. Asking to be
washed and polished and held up to the light.