Evie Shockley

á table

they love him and i was with him:
so they passed me the baguette,
to rip off a fist-sized chunk, golden
crust flaking onto the tablecloth
in a crisp snow: they served up
salmon, smoked, with dill sauce,
thin slices of color itself: they
tossed simple salads, lettuce
and oil, and stuffed tomatoes
for us, the vegetarian they love
and the woman he loves: they
put out plates of cheese, insisted
i try a bit of chevre so strong it could
have lifted the goat it came from:
they initiated me into the art
of the apértif, cassis, just so much,
and chardonnay, electric currants
in a glass: they knew we could not
have food like this aux états-unis,
melon as delightful as a silk
blouse against the shoulders, no,
wine as full and textured as sex,
not possible, not to be believed
of the land of pagan cuisine: they
demanded, every uncle, aunt,
and cousin, that we open our mouths,
throw back our heads, and swallow
all the family they could fit into one
two-week visit: they hosted lunches
that lasted from noon to nine, dinners
that kept us feasting till we could
neither sit nor stand: they produced
omelettes that rose above the pan’s
edge like sunrise: they emptied
their kitchens into our sated stomachs,
and when we were staggering under
a half-dozen courses, they presented
the irresistibles, the tartes topped
with beautiful fruit, the chocolate
gateaux, the flans, and floating islands
of meringue that some or all of us
must have dreamed up: they loved
us with rich, black coffee sweetened
with honey from their hives: they
taught me their tongue: their toasts,
their jokes, their silences, their loud
beliefs and quiet griefs, all the things
they bring to their tables: they taught me
how to be a part of them, who are a
part of him, and i am replete with
kith and kin: i am gourmet, gourmande.
aux ménétriers et robolins

Evie Shockley
Poem, copyright © 2004 by Evie Shockley
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2004, From the Fishouse