Betty & Veronica by Christine McDermott

The Archies are playing overhead
and it feels all retro like you’re
twenty again and Veronica drifts
toward you like a sylph—away
from her boyfriend who hovers, rattish
and drooping dead over bored—
You are a pulsing magnet,
a metallic draw in the bar’s yellow light.
This lonely girl’s languid like ebony,
pouring herself into a chair near you,
but just far enough away so that
you have to lean in to hear
her voice pitched above the noise.

Pay attention, Jughead.
This is a comic
game.

In her mind, it’s already happened,
the tease unwound and finished.
You’ve already unzipped the dress
in the dim light of the apartment
you rent above the garage, moved
soft lip to lip, hand over breast,
the open mouth meets tongue and skin
meets skin. It’s always at the ready.

All of this is possible as she circles
the edge of her glass with her fingertip
to enchant you—but you shake yourself
back to thirty-five, awaken to notice
first the ring of your left hand then
the way the blonde beside you looks
like a thinner, prettier version of your wife.

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