the party poem

Paradoxical though it may seem, it is none the less true
that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”
–Oscar Wilde

I quote wilde
my first gay love, a richard perhaps
and I’m reading these books about black and white balls
and we know someday I’m going to throw lavish parties
where only the omphalos will know
I spent the whole prior day
in my kitchen, cooking
and then hired people to serve
to be hostess and chef
chef d’oeuvre, maîtresse bunny, mrs. Dalloway, clarissa Vaughn
stately in my grandmother’s shoulders
looking down her nose (but which one?)
learning ikebana to arrange cut roses, no, stargazers, myself
arranging h’ors d’oeuvres on a plate
little homemade melba toasts
with a carpaccio
urns of soup simmering for hours
hand-carmelized strawberries
a mystery sauce
fondue, for the underweight, the overweight, the kosher, the lactose intolerant, and the vegan guests, in five little pots with bread cubes arranged around
and skewers (of what? chicken? for the atkins crowd?)
help will have been hired to chop vegetables, debone chicken
do you know coarse versus fine?
use this knife. trust me.
and back outside to the flowers, apron off, diamonds on
smiling demurely until I can remember his name and latest accomplishments
winking and dashing off again to brew more coffee
decaf latté? of course, dear
skim? soy?
no time to dance, but it is one
back singing orders in the kitchen
reapplying lipstick
checking on guests (is my mother pleased with the matzoh balls?)
where are the omphalos? all helpful, each in his or her corner,
the current flame entertaining at least a dozen women and erica flirting with just one man, and both oh so necessary
now stepping into the powder room (transformed into such for the night)
to blot away the perspiration at my temples, where the wisps of grey begin
and to self-shiatsu the nape of my neck, where stress accumulates
running back out to dance with all of the loneliest, ugliest men, alternating with the men who make me want to dance
perhaps by the end of the evening I’ll get one in with a real friend, and those two minutes will unwind the mania of the prior hours
then back to being a cupcake
murmuring thanks and bestowing kisses on the cheeks of my corner mummers who will all stay afterwards to wash down the expensive champagne
(infused with raspberries)
with a few beers
as we sit on my leather, looking at the platters
and stemware
lined up, still dirty (they will be for days)
but happy
as we are, and glowing with use
coffee still perking
making just the right aroma
I see my last few leave, and I am free to sleep off the fun and the food
and tomorrow in my car I will deliver leftovers for thirty to a church nearby
and starting planning next month’s affair

Adrienne D. Mishkin