• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 05

Dinner Is Served

It’s just a matter of time, you know.
The scene is set. Basket overturned
fruit spilling to the floor. I can hear
them roll on the wood. Clutter
of grapes bleached from sun that no
longer shines inside the frame. Gnarled
vines, leaves still attached, remind
us that the cornucopia so displayed
once grew from bush, tree, or ground.
This is not their home. This scene is set.
A painter positioned the boiled red lobster
in the key position of a family platter.
Someone had to peel that lemon on the left.
That’s a nice touch, the way the rind spirals
down as so much else in the painting
flows down, threatens to spill, a miniature
cascade on the white tablecloth, draped,
as if haphazardly, but we know different,
don’t we? Clever designer to let the tendrils
of the kumquat hang against the white
swath of cloth, an image that has been
painted over the cloth, cloth painted
onto the off-white fibers of the canvas. Yes,
this still life of cut roast, fruits, and shellfish
Henry VIII would have admired. But


Dinner Is Served

the artist plays with our glutinous eye. Each
feast is a bacchanal, bloody in nature,
and here in art. At its center the red
of the lobster slips forward, about to flow
down the white cloth, as blood surely did
when the calf was slaughter, as the purple
juice must have when the grapes were pressed.
The still life is anything but still. The scene
is set, its action frozen in the moment. A
boiled lobster about to dive from the silver tray.
From the wings, a monkey and a little white dog,
such touches of whimsy, are the only guests.
One tug of that white draping fabric. That’s
all it would take to set in play the waterfall effect,
to see tumble to the ground the feast of kings.