how undeniably correct we sit,
elbows off the linen and backs molded into the shapes of our chairs.
face to face for the first time in years, we reach out across a gulf of soup tureens.
see: you and i, our glasses laced with cultured rot,
and our mouths pressed tight against an accidental intake of nourishment.
between us lies an immutable hardwood slab and its forest of china,
candle flames wide-accusing eyes glaring in all directions.
the invitation, extended; the acceptance, inevitable.
decorum dictated our responses.
we did not want to be here, we could not refuse.
the careful avoidance of bad taste, the manners that offended and enraged–
overwhelming trivialities that cannot, that have to be, ignored.
hunger gnawing me to the bone, i had to relearn how to play nice,
and all the while sharpened silverware inches from my hand.
how easy to to sip in small spoonfuls, to remember which hand holds the knife.
you–the flawless visitor, the perfect dinner guest–
are so exactly the way i remember.
your manners make it so very easy to be polite,
so very easy to scoop you onto the flawless tablecloth and serve you whole,
my steak knife carving roasts from your thighs,
my dessert spoon gouging sweetbreads and viscera for a palate cleanser,
my salad fork buried in flesh that shrieks, writhes, and erupts with an aroma of mesquite-grilled pork.
no, it doesn’t pain me at all.
i devour you in small, neat bites, exactly as we’d both been taught.
it’s not murder, it’s an act of mercy,
your skin flensed back in artful patterns
and your flesh floating in red wine sauce pungent with too few years.
pain toughens the meat to bitter string and yet i choke you down,
weeping, belly bloating until i can’t stand the taste of you.
how still you lay, how neatly arranged for my consumption.
unresisting but reproachful, eyes accusing as you smile and chant,
it’s okay/i don’t blame you/it’s all your fault.
i never wanted to do this to you, but it had to be done.
i didn’t choose to be here, but mother made me come.