Poetry Fiction 2010

Friendly

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The friendly way to explain the missing punch bowl
Is to assume you loaned it to someone
Who, by the time he thought of returning it,
Had lost his job and moved to another city
And loaned it to the hostess of a charity ball
Who forgot the person she borrowed it from.
As for his intention to fetch it back,
It may have been shoved aside by more pressing issues,
Like sickness, like facing his end
Without regret for projects left unfinished.
So the bowl sits in a bin in the charity basement
Still waiting to be reclaimed, just like the plate
Somebody brought to a party of yours
And never called for. Beautiful cut glass
You’ve kept safe in a drawer, unused,
To dream of the place where it was treasured.
It would be a friendly gesture now
To lift it out of the dark into the open.
Friendly to say to any guest
Who casts an appreciative glance in its direction,
“If it looks like yours, you should take it home.”

Carl Dennis is the author of 10 books of poetry, including Unknown Friends (2007) and Practical Gods (2001), which received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He lives in Buffalo, New York.
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