setting the table

The wolves are snarling today, so I set the table slowly.

He says, you’re so beautiful, but one wolf

won’t let me believe, & I won’t let the other close enough

to lick the good china. You’ve heard this myth.

One dark, one light, live inside. Feed one

& it survives. When will we learn

what we starve always becomes claw

& teeth & snarl? When we see our own ribs, we begin

to mash & gnaw. It is easier to believe,

to break (& break into) what is seen.

So, I close my eyes & set the table. He says,

you’re so beautiful today, but one wolf is sacrificing

the other on the altar of our expectations.

Here is a severed paw, red against turquoise fiesta ware.

Here is an eyetooth, ivory parsley. Here, one blue eye, one

brown. A carafe to wash it down. When will

we remember the myth says if we feed both wolves right—

generosity & selfishness, humility & pride—

we all win? So, today, I set the table slowly,

soothe hands over smooth wood grain, one fork

for each plate. Leave the chairs pulled back, forgiving.

I know those high school girls called my arms & legs retarded

because, like me, they were afraid of their own bodies.

He says, you’re so beautiful. Fancy dress & made-up

I might believe, but not make-up free. One wolf says

he only wants sex. One says attraction is beyond bone deep.

Starve one, or guide both—you get to choose.

They say beauty is symmetry. I set the table slowly today,

the wolves are snarling.