For years, I couldn't remember its name—that tasteful little nightclub tucked away from the bustle of shopping and restaurants. Intimate. Nothing ostentatious, simple wooden tables. Dark but not too dark. Safe but holding a measure of intrigue. Meant for people like me.
The resident musician sang and played nearly nonstop, curled around his guitar as if he were bound to it. (I rarely ever saw him stand up.) The song selection: whatever was popular back then, mellow but not too mellow. Notes and voice hinting of warm butterscotch.
An unlikely friend of mine with exotic island looks once spoke of him with an air of familiarity. "You know him?" I asked, as if he were a god and I a mere mortal-girl. "Sure," she responded between characteristic long drags on her cigarette. Of course, she and I lived in different lanes.
Fast forward: In time, the name of the place would come to me. Then, after a computer search to learn about its fate, I would stumble across the singer's name; another search would instantly yield current-day photos of him. In mere minutes, I would learn that he had landed himself on a list of registered sex offenders and, also, that he had been deemed a man of God, though I had no way of knowing which label had come first.
at the trendy bars
I'd sit hoping
some young man would find me
yet hoping he wouldn't
The tanka "among shadows" was previously published in Landfall: Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka, 2007.