Let those love now*
I want to make you all some good, hot food,
to feed you polenta baked until it forms a crispy
peppered crust, then serve up ruffled greens
and soft biscuits filled with steaming fruit.
I want to cook all morning and afternoon,
to make you valentine-shaped cookies
sprinkled with cinnamon, and also pies
packed with dark red cherries that sing
with a deep, bubbling juice,
like a choir joining voices beneath
a domed ceiling. I want to feed you all,
from the grandmother left sitting alone
in a shadowed room to the cool, pale sister
with the cracked-plate smile.
Come, let’s all take our places at a table
where our combined brilliance will outshine
all the candles and the stars and the sun at .
Let’s pass our stories to one another
like a bowl of plump, green olives
or a basket of warm, sighing bread.
Here, at this table, we can all savor the alchemy
of a creamy cheddar cheese laced with chives,
and when we’re done feasting, we can
each have a slice from a single cucumber,
so that its sweet, clean taste will linger
on our tongues.
*Thomas Parnell, Translation of “The Vigil of Venus,” attributed to Tiberianus;
“Let those love now who never loved before;/Let those who always loved, now love the more.”