Two at the ends, two at the back
one for the cook, one for the help
this was the way of Sunday’s table:
hungry tums anxiously waiting,
family dog glued to the floor
lest any scrap should need saving.
Father would pray for all our saving;
serve himself before handing back,
while Mother paced the dining floor
ever offering us kids some help
till dishes, her end, piled up, waiting –
always an imbalance at our table.
Silence was the rule of the table,
stories and anecdotes were for saving,
politeness called for patient waiting –
chairs tucked in and shoulders back
and no cutting the meat without help,
cold potatoes slyly sloshing on floor.
Youngest feet not reaching the floor
tended to swing beneath the table
kicking knees could not be helped;
from fiendish scowls no saving –
Father’s hand flashed a wicked back,
scolding sermons he kept in waiting.
My tongue would tire of the waiting
no matter how I focused on the floor
and if a sister should glance me back
that would be the end of a quiet table,
giggles nervously emerging from saving
any hope of control beyond our help.
Mother’s good nature was seldom help,
nor Father’s silence as he glared, waiting,
for the situation was far beyond saving,
and his chair angrily scraped the floor
as his storming presence left the table
we happily waved at his regressing back.
All the stories we’ve been saving –
childhood foibles we couldn’t help
Days and people we’ll never get back
hoping that somewhere they’re waiting
That one day we’ll meet, share the floor
minus the hurt, forgiveness at the table.
(My poetry circle tried their hands at a sestina.
This is my attempt. Another tale from dinner
with Dad. Image my own.)