An egret stepped warily into the trattoria
on the corner and ordered a pasta with marinara;
the clientele paused as one pauses
when cocktail chatter is broken by a belch
or as happened the previous evening when a rhinoceros
waddled in for a martini: it was getting increasingly
difficult to eat without the odd interruption.
The owner (a Neapolitan) was open-minded:
he believed meals have a spiritual flavor
relished by all of God’s kingdom,
that a table is the communal center of creation.
But his diners refused to countenance feathers
and snorts, to extend their fellowship to those
considered less favored in the chain of being.
Rumors spread about his tasteless predilection.
He lost business. The egret, though,
a snowy delight in his dark day,
chattered on about marketing, new customers,
seasoned opportunities, a unique vision
in an expanding world of gustation.
The Neapolitan—who first saw light
at the edge of a vast uncornered sea—
stood in the night and watched
the still stars, so far away.
They stayed bright, no matter
the turning of the world. He nodded,
returned to his kitchen, brushed the cobwebs,
and told the egret to open all the doors.
You said you wanted to die on a bright day
so you could find your way clearly to the shore;
you said noon would have no distracting shadows
to maneuver around, for you believed the lore
that the soul is haunted by them; you said the day
should be long because you never could walk fast
and you wanted not to be late; but here you are,
stretched out in dark winter, betrayed, long past
the summer’s light; but is there ever, finally, a day
perfect for what you now know? Does our world
prepare us correctly, with its colors and its din,
for the moment we all shun when we are hurled
into silence? You do not speak. No matter the day,
then, no matter the silver clouds from the west:
you’ve packed away your trinkets and lie with empty
hands, ready for what someone else knows is best.