You, chewing moons of motel ice
like knucklebones:
actually, it comes
from Middle English by way of
Old French—
tristre, a prearranged
hunting station.

I will not debate your etymology.
You’re too well-armed, your gaze
always fixed squarely backward;
all I have is three years of
high school French,

Quelle heure est-il? than
archaic terms for where 14th-
century huntsmen piled their kills.
But even at this distance I recall
triste means sad.

I’m sure you could tell me, too,
the origin of astragalomancy
(divination by dice or small bones)
as you grope for your bra in the
sticky neon oozing

between the closed mini-blinds,
just as you would never cast those bones
upon the sheets, gaze and surmise,
instead of eating our maybes
before they melt.

And melt they would; as always,
we paid in cash, by the hour. So
crunch away.
Obviously from the Greek. Obviously.
triste does mean sad.

(first appeared in issue 6 of Sugar House Review)