A Valentines”s Day Dinner Party (New Poem by Polly Castor)

A Valentines”s Day Dinner Party (New Poem by Polly Castor)

Valentine's Day Dinner Party poem by Polly Castor

Valentine’s Day Dinner Party

A busy week.
Many calls,
a whole cavalcade
of things to do.
Checked off lists
with stray things
left undone
because of other people’s
honest emergencies.
Not much sleep.
A dinner party
hastily planned
for Friday night.
It was Valentine’s Day
after all, so lets do
something special.
Festooned with
red tablecloth
wedding crystal,
sweetheart roses,
chocolate hearts,
an eventual bonfire
of candles,
and every place set
with my Aunt’s
eggshell china
with gold rim.
Finally vacuuming
fifteen minutes before
the first doorbell
brought in a blast
of winter chill
along with friends,
I’m still cutting mounds
of vegetables. Appetizers
brought by others:
guacamole and chips
shallot and chive Boursin
on water crackers,
us passing out fizzy water.
Talk of trains with
shoe shining compartments
while you slept,
and bohemian digs
in Budapest, visiting
parents in Brazil, and
cruise ships, thank God,
no longer allowed
to dock in Venice.
Maybe I should make dinner.
I excuse myself and can
only hear murmurings
from the kitchen
as I throw together
the Pad Thai with
Shrimp and Cabbage,
to be served with the
two salads I made earlier,
a pink one in honor of the day
of jicama stained fuchsia
by roasted beets,
studded with lemon soaked
apple slices, plump blueberries,
and flecked with minced mint,
the other, more hearty,
with julienned broccoli stems,
curly kale massaged with
a teaspoon of honey, supporting
pillowy, pricy, out of season,
heirloom grape tomatoes,
and sunflower seeds.
Not a perfect meal,
for too many small shapes
for the designer in me.
So we added a grain-free
carrot gingerbread muffin
to anchor it some.
All the flavors and colors
are distinct anyway,
and with the candles
now lit, the lights
dimmed or off,
the cider bubbly now poured
–no alcohol here–
I figure we’ll taste it
more than see it anyway.
We hold hands
for a silent prayer.
Plates are assembled,
and diners gathered,
commenting about food,
about the ambiance,
the week recedes
and is nowhere
completely interrupted
by celebrating love,
being thought of,
by community,
and feasting, and talk.
Everyone that came
knew somebody,
but no one knew everybody
but us. Out of eight people,
seven work from home,
a new trend.
We used to commute
and discussed how and where
(including best parking places).
But now, some work
in Starbucks, spare bedrooms,
basements, attics, and even
subscription offices,
available for booking online
at short notice,
all over the world.
Here we were on a frigid night
in Connecticut discussing
San Francisco
for everyone had reasons
of their own connected with it.
The world felt small.
These educated people
had been there.
One shared about
not complimenting
anyone in Japan on anything
or they would be
honor bound
to give it to you.
And did you know
they bury their dead
vertically
and will refuse
to be in your home
if you have photos out
of anyone no longer alive?
We heard of catering
for 10,000 people,
parents passing on overseas
on the day all
the offspring arrived,
and wondered together
about the fate
of Neiman Marcus,
with attending stories.
We moved on to dessert
served on my husband’s
grandmother’s plates,
with herbal tea and decaf
served in my grandmother’s
teacups and saucers.
One guest brought strawberries
she had dipped in
dark and white chocolate
to look like little tuxedos
and we made my mother’s
sugar cookies
cut out into hearts
and frosted pink,
white and red,
a long time tradition
in our family.
Flushed with sweetness,
we stayed, chatting,
turning to politics,
and the important
presidential elections.
Perspectives were shared,
all wanting the best
for our nation,
but with congenially
different views, and
more than a little humor
and concern.
We were still at the table
at 11:30pm, unbelieving
how time had flown,
and our shared evening
had evaporated our cares,
assuaged by a collective,
and with kindred feeling
inside and out.
By ones and twos
our guests slipped
back over our threshold
in the opposite direction,
into their separate lives,
heartened, convivial,
a nice time had by all.
I was struck
by how hospitality
is still relevant,
and should be more alive
and exercised these days
as much as our ancestors
had used their china.
I mused how hospitality
takes some thought
and energy, and care,
but that everyone,
even the hostess and host
get more out of it
than they put in.
Why do we forget that
so immeshed in our screens
and riveted to our Netflix,
or working all the time?
Each dinner party
is like a work of art
or a prayer
with God choreographing
the combination of ideas,
all ingredients contributing
to a distinct moment
that will never come again:
this amalgamation of people,
a menu never to be repeated,
the conversation byways
never again to be explored
the same way again.
The next morning,
with sunlight slanting in
on our leavings,
(having previously
tottered happily off
to a deep, blissfully
uninterrupted sleep),
aroused for me a wistfulness
for a world of graciousness
that I don’t want
to disappear,
and will again someday
invite people to our table
to while away
an evening together
breaking bread
even when,
like for this time,
no bread was served.
While I guess
my husband and I
hosted this,
it felt more like
God did,
and I want to say
Thank You for
having us all.
We felt the Love.

Polly Castor
2/15/2020

             

I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.

6 Comments

  1. Dilys 8 months ago

    Heartwarming, Polly, I felt as if I was with you all! Love x

    • Author
      Polly Castor 8 months ago

      I wish you could be! Come and we’ll do it anew!

  2. Mary Beth Williams 8 months ago

    Polly – you are just the sweetest ??? What an incredibly generous and beautiful gift this is for you to share – such generous portions of grace and unselfishness the week leading up to your inspired dinner party – the incredible and moving insight that God’s love was the main ingredient
    Hospitality to me is one of the most important things there is to be lived and you do it so well. I think it can even be broken down into small things even the way that we are open to genuinely befriending strangers that we need on our daily errands. I will refer back to this poem numerous times it was such a joy to read it and you are such a treasure. You are an angel my friend! Thank you ??❤️??❤️

    Valentine’s Day has always been one of my very favorite holidays for as long as I can remember
    The local grocery store here started early in the week with lots of bakery offerings darling cookies decorated like Valentines and then large sheets of cookies decorated as well as cupcakes and cakes etc. and balloons everywhere and then pretty soon as it drew closer I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many bouquets of flowers in my entire life placed all over the store! When I walked in Friday I just felt incredibly hugged by love. I feel like everywhere we go and for some reason the grocery store hours feel like the people there are part of my family and I love getting to know them. I do love grocery shopping so occasionally I go to different stores but it’s fun to go to one most of the time because of the friendships that develop. It’s a sense of community really. This particular store a large chain is known for its devotion to community and reaching out and helping others. They make a point of hiring a lot of high school kids at some of the stores the one store I go to the most has more of a mix but they are all just precious. As I drove home from the grocery store that day this quote came to me from Science and Health with key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. “The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!” Whenever I have a lot to do or I’m trying to get somewhere and I feel concerned about my timing I always turn my thoughts to the Holy Ghost and it immediately calms my thoughts. It speaks to me of the sense of direction and timing it is already perfectly in place.

    You are such a gem Polly, thank you for your transparency of love and so many other beautiful qualities and your generous sharing so much of what you are pondering and doing. You are such an incredible blessing and I thank you so very much ???????

    • Author
      Polly Castor 8 months ago

      You are too! xxx

  3. LOREE A. OGAN 8 months ago

    Your attention to detail and love of all of us was so joyful! I was blessed to have been one of the guests at the table sharing both the outstanding food and spirited conversations.

    • Author
      Polly Castor 8 months ago

      So glad you were there too! xxx (and for the rest of you, she’s the caterer that served 10,000 at a time…)

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