From Autumn Opens a Door, collection published in fall, 2015.
It’s 1968 and
it’s time for us to host a bridge party
because it’s our family’s turn
in the social calendar, ladies’ section,
the one that is humming along inside every head in town
that’s female and over a certain age.
They know what it says but I don’t. I am too young
and not sorry about it. What it is
It’s the signal for a lot of work
that I know from reading our family’s copy of Emily Post
work that has to be done right or we will be shamed.
We have to get out the card tables cover them
with tablecloths and the dining room table too
Put out dishes from the corner cabinets
which necessitates a lot of useless silver-polishing
done by me and not well enough so for example
I do one platter
three times. Clean up every room especially the bathroom and including my bedroom
that no one will see. Find the coffee urn and fill it up.
We are fortunate to have our own urn our neighbors borrow it
when they have parties
lacking their own and somehow
it gives us status.
We get out the special packs of playing cards
the nice ones
that no one can ever use except for bridge parties and we
keep them in the living room in the desk
that has a dried-paper smell
when you open the lid. On bridge party day
the dog throws up in the living room
right before the party. I am at school so
I don’t see it. I don’t have to see it to know that
the guests come dressed in fancy clothes
their versions of chic
but they are the same ladies we see all the time
around town. Can’t we just say hello then
and be done with the entertaining? I know the answer
so I keep my mouth shut now that the party’s over
and I need to get ready to
wash some dishes.