The Tea Party

tea party cupcakeWhen the conversations were over,
when it no longer served you to pay attention
as if I mattered
—for I had once so mattered—
we put the fire out,
and you left with less care
than a stranger
telling a child it is time
to put away the tea party.

It was a tea party after all,
you playing along.
I all the time eating real biscuits and sweets,
drinking real tea.
You, more sober, saw the game,
saw the empty bowl.
Now time to clean up.
The clatter of plastic dishes.

It must have been that way every day
for all of us as children,
to put away the magic,
to join the flat, gray
world of grownups.
So the commute began,
until finally the painful coming
and going was done.
Until finally we could see,
and all we saw was empty.
And empty now looked full.

But when you came,
you threw me back
and made me believe
in make-believe again.
And when you left, you left
reality askew in three
against two time,
me pressing the round pieces
against the sharp corners
where nothing fit. And nothing fits.

When the conversations were over,
When it no longer served you
to play the play,
you left without even the obligatory
“DEAR JOHN,” in a desperate hurry
to be on your way,
to another table set for two.
And now she seeing
what she wants to see,
the beautiful, painful, fleeting
make-believe.
The biscuits and the tea.

Copyright © 2000 Susan Dane • All rights reserved.
Selection from GOOD-BYE TO WHITE KNIGHTS and other moving vehicles—I. Gone the Clear Blue.