Dinner Party

by Eleanor Penny

Each to their own,
so we are tasked differently.
Dinner will come, thick-suited men
will crow and flap about the offering-table,
nodding thanks at belly-height, and crickle-toothed
and too hot under the low lights.
I shake the scales from fish hips
glinted in the shadow
of the dry dock
She can lift – look
how she holds the cleaver on the
crest of the wave, on the brink
for balance – this is dancing.
Music clatters to a halt,
kissed shoulders still contort
quieter and cutting as a blade
She will send me out
to gather up
a list of things, grown, washed,
sweet herbs from in between the dunes of clay
where winter is, and snow keeps
a little longer.
I will step into the wind,
onto the stone steps
carefully, cut
fine and thin and humming
as a string between horizons – I step out
stretch my arms out, cannot see
for all the rising steam
still rising
from the cooking pot,
the burning scales
or onions stinking lifted wet
against her hair and eyelids,
I will not see how much there is of space
for falling in.
Only the glower of a blinking window
and a cleaver, lifted high