The Dinner Party

By Kelly Grace Thomas

 

Blank walls are criminal.

There is so much to say and still you sit there,

a statue sculpted by a stranger’s hands.

You always played in the sandbox alone,

afraid to move your soldiers forward,

fearful that no would come to your tea party.

The Mad Hatter said you were uninspired,

all syllables, no lips,

scared to eat the blue sponge cake or laugh at jokes you didn’t understand.

You and promise had this slow dance

of hide and go seek, of seesaw codependency.

It knew your dark corners, like lovers know the memory of a curve or the scent of midnight confessions.

You, with your backyard psychology, kicking the ball against the fence,

Over and over and over.

While America sat in the background,

 begging for a second chance.

We have all grown up like Holden Caulfield.

Abandoned at a payphones, locked out of apartments

in taxi-cab conversations,

trying to find ourselves on these sidewalks of New York.

We have no choice but to show up to this dinner party,

only now tables have gotten bigger, the chairs more expensive.

And instead of cartoons, people now talk of mortgages, while itching at their wedding bands.

The red wine slap of vinegar

on lips that aren’t saying what they want.

Can’t we forget the outside world,

Talk of the ducks in Central Park.

Get the dinner guests drunk and confess our love.

 

It is okay to ask for help,

Smooth out the lies, you kept like photo albums.

I wish I could help you build this sand castle,

 but I too am running away

from a collage of catastrophe.

At six I broke all the nesting dolls

and refused to recognize the lines coloring books had drawn for me.

At ten I burned all the girl scout badges

I didn’t earn, and pulled the hair of little girls who told me I couldn’t.

At twelve I learned if you could make something sound beautiful,

the hurt won't unpack its bags as quickly next time.

I thought, that if you painted on a blank wall,

spread epidemic fits of passion, visions like viruses.

Wrote with fearless intention, lost in a canvas of want

your brilliance would be billboarded

your prophecy broadcasted and rationed to the thousands who can no longer taste the hope

or courage leftover in the fridge from the generation before.

I saw the blank canvases and figured they must be lonely.

 

So I wandered with my words,

to deserted parks, where rusty swings sing,

to rooftop gospels, where journals beat with pulsing of purpose.

Sometimes, I think I was put at the wrong table,

thirsty but, refusing to drink spoiled milk.

I wish the television hadn’t taught me to grow up this fast.

Maybe then, I could sit at this dinner party and look you in the eye.

Tonight we dine on mistakes, but call them friends knowing them have taught us to walk through the fire.

Tonight we toast all the doors insecurity closed before we could speak up, kick them in  and dance

barefoot on top of them

Tonight we throw our salad forks out the window with outdated expectations, and wave our napkins in

surrender .

The only things I have to offer is my own confusion, and yet I promise

There will be no hangover of doubt in the morning,

no second guessing guilt of dessert.

Tonight I will lean across the table, replace your knife with a brush and

ask you to paint.