By Christopher Watkins

As if, in opposite corners,
our trainers had just told us
to “Go out there and get ‘em,”
we square off, I on the wine side
of the bar, you on the other.

What, I wonder,
is there in your armor
in the way
of a weak spot?

I speak slowly,
but the grim cast
never leaves the set-in
hardlines of your lips.

I move precisely, careful
not to tear the foil
or break the cork
or spill the wine.

I marvel at your nose,
how it reaches, like a hand,
into the deep crimson bowl.
I see the wide open pores,
the scattered veins,
I hear the wily hairs
rustle like reeds beside a river
as you draw in all our hopes,
dreams, our chance.

When they went, I don’t remember,
but I notice now the lines
around your mouth have disappeared.

I am speaking, but I know
that you’re not listening; maceration,
malo-lactic, barrel-aging, all just noises
in the ether…

A small piece of the moon
breaking off and hurtling towards us
couldn’t captivate me more
than the movement of your cheeks
as your roll the liquid ‘round.

Then your Adam’s apple hitches
and convulses in slow-motion.
There, it’s done.
you’ve swallowed,
and there’s no noise in the world
but the word you’re going to speak, and then you speak it: