"The Dead Sea At Dinner" by Andrew Towle
The candle sphere holds us in orbit
Around the dark mahogany table. We're
At a lull in history suddenly, the conversation
Dies, peacetime. Grandma's napkins glow, she
Folded them to look like bishops' mitres or
Linen bonnets, bonnets of ancient pilgrims.
Food swerves around the table to my mother,
Her hair black as the Dead Sea at night, its
Waves dark and shiny as her torrential locks.
My sister looks gloomy, like her bedroom upstairs
In the dusk where she left a record going.
I imagine the red light glowing into the gloom
And out through the pale windows where snow falls
Silently, Records, books, never feel this much
Silence till the end, till after the last groove,
The last line when the singer, the author
Leaves us suddenly behind in the shrill silliness
Of a blank page. My grandfather creaks to his
Fork, clinks his plate on the way and I hear
A distant underwater engine in the enormous,
Curtained room of the sea. My father stares
Down, Knives squeak, the sound of the gull,
No gull, the slow reverberation of words and
A lap, lap, lap at the shore as if some slow,
Methodical city were rising from the dark waves
To sweep us away suspended in the aroma of
Supper, a sea so thick with salt we have no choice
But to float to shore, back to words and
Pass the potatoes. Here, familiar voices
Coat the air like the fluorescent , caulky
Foam that, delicate and precious, lines
The sunrise tide.