She knew herself well enough to say
no to a place that shared a parking lot

with a bar. She knew, scribbling the deposit
check, that the yellow halogen mounted right

there on its pole meant her bedroom would never
be dark; that The Pirate, stoned and grinning

neon above the bar’s front door, would lure
her like a siren to a stool that swiveled and rum

on the rocks, a splash of Coke, no lemon — just
another night of bullshitting about the rain

and a book she planned to write when she had enough
time. Funny how people always find shelter

talking about the weather. Her dash
from the apartment door through the rain

to the bar that first night gave her entrance
a sheen of innocence — water dripping

from her hair — she was a girl seeking
refuge, not a woman slinking into a bar

alone. It was a part she could play, and the men
let her, one giving up his seat and his cozy

jacket, another shouting, “Richie! Give this lady
a drink.” “Richie,” she murmured, “the usual.”

The men chortled. Richie winked.
She was practically a regular already.