Table Setting

Being on speaking terms with the value of shock,

you might say I should have seen you coming with a 20-foot pole.

          Oh, that’s right. I did.

No room left for the attraction of opposites,

it overflowed with the mildewed remains of convenient contradiction.

          Such as? Oh, let’s see . . .

Black leather chaps mocked your line cook existence,

your escape to the icebox in hotboxed surrender to unconfessed sins.

Gold-plated manners while you played chef to family get-togethers:

well-polished silver keeping blind eyes from tarpaulins covering

piecemeal renovation, the mounded body bags of your broken dreams.

I tied on an apron, washed dishes and swept

poured wine, changed cassette tapes, lit tapers and wept.

          We all play at being grown, don’t we?

          We played house, we played doctor, we played lawyer a lot.

          Pulling, pushing, time out corners of a tell-tale truth:

          toddlers play parallel better than we.

Three little words: I love you! I need you! Listen to me!

Replaced by your singular, stubborn belief

so regularly shared, so unwisely ignored that all humans lie.

          Why do you hide? I’ll show you yours – will you show me mine?