There it sits, squat and upright,
green fractals like prickly flames,
compressed, solid, steaming.
limp from the cooking and resting,
seasoned, on a blue china plate.
The world, the fruit, the artichoke,
unknown to me, as I sit
at his parents' table in growing alarm.
I like him but too early in a
relationship for this test,
with parents, younger sister,
even younger sister.Yet here I am,
past demurring and faced
with a yawning pit of discovery.
Oh please, a clue, before I am
revealed. Then my grandmother's voice,
Watch and take your cue from the others.
Suddenly, his mother, smiling,
tears off a leaf and rips it
through her teeth, leaving actual tracks,
We had no such exotica at our table,
even avocados were too dear
for our budget. I was a brisket girl
facing gold rimmed plates and
an armada of silverware. I pulled
and ripped and chewed until I
arrived, askance, at thistles and stopped.
No way was I going to eat those,
not even for Emily Post, or my grandmother.
Not going to eat your heart?
cooed my date.
My God. My Heart?
And he and his sisters
fell to skirmishing over what now seemed
was the goal all along. The Gray Prize,
the Inner Sanctum, the princess
protected by a garrison of thorns.
So they seized my heart and divided
it among themselves, happy and
glistening with butter
until all was polite again;
a buzzer under the table,
the litter removed,
and on to the next fork in line.