by Suzy Harris
At home, the old knife knew its way around a tomato.
The salad bowls lined up like soldiers on the counter.
In charge, the bossy pressure cooker, with its steam whistle,
set the pace. Preening radish flowers,
pats of butter, well-dressed table, ashtrays at the ready,
cocktail glasses whispering about the guests to arrive.
And then the doorbell, coats find their way to the closet,
whiskery stale kisses that can’t be avoided,
ice cubes dance into glasses, olives into martinis,
the cheese and crackers partner up effortlessly
and slide onto little plates, cocktail napkins sidle up,
a loud voice startles a wine glass that shatters,
is swept up and forgotten.
Now, the plates and silverware jump into action,
glasses fill and empty and fill again,
pats of butter find their way into baked potatoes,
plates corral the rolling peas and
anchor the tablecloth, hold everything in place.
After, the shapely Chemex comes out with her
retinue of demitasse cups and saucers,
tiny silver spoons. Brandy, too, with her
snifters, and they stare at each other,
haughty and proud, until they find themselves
back on the cluttered kitchen counter top
reduced to lipstick smudges and coffee grounds.
One by one, the coats seek out their owners,
help them to their cars. Now, the dishwasher takes charge,
ordering all the plates and silverware,
cups and platters, each into its rightful sliver of space,
making room for the last spoon and spatula
before closing its door and shifting into gear.
The sponges drag themselves across the Formica,
ashtrays empty into the garbage,
the house takes a deep breath,
the windows rattle and release a bit of hot air
into the wintery night.
Quiet now, the rug and couches inch closer together
to stay warm as the house sleeps.