Mulled Wine by Gayathri Raj


“Bring me your best Chardonnay”

And a glass of liquid gold arrives.

The evening wears on, dragging its feet

In the mire of tired conversation

Our eyes wander, to watch the wall, and the waiter

Polishing the table.

Each digression is relished in all its glory

The bubbles rise and dissolve into nothingness

I sip my wine, shy and impatient,

Even as you declare it insipid.

I empathise with the wine.

Maybe I am not aged well,

Maybe it hasn’t been long enough for me

To be tasted on evenings like these.

My heels are too high and my cuffs too tight.

I am a fevered acolyte, there is no doubt

And you the aged red wine.

Dry and difficult for me,

Even as I scramble to appreciate you

To appear a worldly aesthete.

On such nights, she sheds her girl,

And I wear my woman.

Yet the little girl is never too far away.

She arrives with pattering feet, and a loud giggle;

Her pigtails and optimism are louder than I can ever be.

The girl fits poorly inside her.

You tell me about she you knew, he you knew,

You tell me about your fantasies and nightmares,

I profoundly do not care.

And I find myself thinking of when I

Stood waiting for your person to appear

I am unable to summon that warm feeling of anticipation.

The only warmth she feels is the wine

As it burns her throat.

Who knew that youth would become a regret?

Later you will sit across from me in a garden,

The girl will feel like a decanter

Of the poorest Chardonnay.

As it guiltily waits to be spat out,

Caught in its deception despite its gold.

I will be swirled and smelled, and sipped reluctantly.

There will be a grimace.

I shall still proudly wear my golden hues

And my bubbles.

One day, I shall hope to be the aged wine

That you like and know.

But tonight, my darling, I am my best Chardonnay.

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