Orts

By David Yezzi

Tough to say from this tableful of scraps
what couples feasted here—gnawed olive stones
among the burnt ends of cold meat, the laps
of cantaloupes splayed open, spindly bones
of game birds, unloaved crusts, a waxy rind.
Did late-harvest wine unloose their wild talk?
Whose restless eyes, at once far-off and kind,
looked skyward on an after-dinner walk?
The clues are hard to tease out: were they fair
or compromised, temperate or gluttonous;
did some not give a fig and others care?
Both, perhaps, and in both just like us,
who, swept up in the whirl of tonight’s laughter,
pay no special mind to what comes after.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/06/orts/308496/