THE GREATEST DATE

by Joanna Gilman Hyde

 My Host picked Me up in The Late Afternoon

March 31st 1993

I wasn’t ready still in My Bathrobe

My Host patted Me “Don’t worry You can take It off

when We get there — They’ll be Delighted”

We arrived early

at Windows On The World

at the coat check where men without jackets

borrow jackets I disrobed

walked in on The Arm of My Host

to be seated at A Table for Three

My Host coaxed “What would You like to drink?”

“I Think Old-fashioned” It came

It came again and We switched

to Champagne

The Menus appeared

I couldn’t make up My Mind

My Host had to indicate The Appetizer:

Oysters On The Half Shell and Someone

dropped in A Pearl for Me to find

for Me to contemplate

I turned The Pearl in My Mind

questioning Its Meaning while

My Host laughed

“That’s Nothing!”

On Came The Lights

The Chandeliers

from the ceiling came streaking down

in Silver all around Me

on My Head and in My Naked Lap —

Oh My God, Oh My God! OH MY GOD!”

so dazzled stunned I could not eat

The Main Course

I got up to get My Robe

I tried to leave

My Host was determined

to have Me

so We walked Arm-in-Arm

to a little cafe down by The Hudson

where We sat in Semi-Darkness

This Time I found My Mind

in the quiet I ordered My Dessert

I picked It because of Its name

THE MEANING OF LIFE

was chocolate in every form

even the whipped cream was chocolate

deep in Its centre was a hollow filled

with a kind of gelatin I had never tasted

could never describe

but It was the most delicate flavour

ever to grace My Tongue

I decided to stay There Forever

but The Host wanted Me to Dance

The Host wanted Me to Revel in All That Had Been Known

All That Could Be

to See All Things New and so I did

I did for weeks its seemed until

The Night-time Drive

along an empty Thruway

to arrive at The House

of The Untiring Host

on No Sleep

at The Great Black Cloister

inside a Cultivated Retreat

The Host announced “I have a Visitor

I would like You to meet” and again

I was shy

being in My Bathrobe but The Host assured Me

that would be fine

This Visitor Could Take Anything

“Is He In?” I asked exhausted

“He’ll be with You at 10:22”

I had no choice but to wait

sitting in an ungainly Waiting Room

What was Happening?

At The Appointed Time

The Host lead Me down a long corridor

to a Hidden Room

not really a room — An Examining Room

The Host had Me sit

in The Examining Room until

The Visitor arrived

not much taller than Me

The Visitor had quick eyes

a half smile which was good

enough for Me

He didn’t say Hello being The Visitor

but wasn’t I a Visitor too?

I Knew Then I Had Been Tricked

“I have something To Tell –” I blurted to My Visitor

“These things happen –” He hedged

again I had No Choice:

“I Have Something I Am COMPELLED To Say”

My Visitor stood with Folded Arms

I pleaded, “Would You Believe — Would You Accept What I Have To Say?”

His Arms Unfolded, “Yes Go Ahead Tell Me”

There Is A God.”

And Our Host is Still Laughing His Goddamn Head Off