Destruction of the Ideal Over and Over
This tablecloth has a stain on it
A big stain. Maybe a combination of stains.
Make that a combination of
a lot of big stains.
Wash it as much as you like
the ghosts of those past meals
will be haunting tonight’s dinner.
Thrift prevents us using a new cloth every day
but I like to imagine
shaking one out of a package of crinkly plastic
the label depicting
a foodfree peoplefree stainfree dining room
Snapping it over the table and seeing that it is
because none of us has picked up a fork
and dropped a bite of beet
or slopped salad dressing over the edge of the plate
tomato bisque chocolate pudding strawberries gravy.
No one’s knife has skidded and no eggplant parmigiana
has hit the centerpiece and fallen
into the middle of the table.
Don’t tell me how each spot on the tablecloth reflects
happy family gatherings, festive meals, special occasions
leaving their mark
No. Because it doesn’t.
The stained cloth is full of disturbing reminders
of flawed, disappointing, blemished, apologetic
breakfasts lunches dinners.
The new cloth still in the package
untouched by us
is full of potential and there’s not a blot on it
although it’s not much good if we don’t use it