In the Presence of My Enemy

Chard deNiord

I told him the one about the elder
and the towel, then laughed along until
he asked for another drink and I poured
him one like the brother I wasn’t—
only the finest single malt, then told
a joke of my own, the one about Eve
and the fish. We laughed again. Now every-
thing was funny and I forgot
for a minute that he was my enemy,
so entertained was I by his jokes
I didn’t know what to say
except, “That’s funny, really funny.”
We sat on the porch in the quiet of evening
and listened to the breeze in the oaks
and ice in our glasses. Dusk fell slowly
like a veil at first and then a curtain.
A couple of crows in the pines continued
our laughter, although we had grown quiet
at the table and peaceful in our loathing.