Richard Jones


In my tiny Paris galley kitchen,
I keep an eye on the clock
as I arrange the cheese on a blue plate—​​
a Pouligny-Saint-Pierre
goat cheese shaped like a pyramid,
some bleu d’Auvergne from the south
and a bit of white-rinded Pont l’Eveque,
a cheese that delighted
Norman monks in the Middle Ages.
In the bowl I toss the salad,
a plain green salad with watercress and herbs
to serve alongside the veal
with mushrooms and cream sauce.
I’m trying to emulate the meal
I enjoyed in a café near the Place des Vosges
on Sunday afternoon
as rain fell on the empty street.
The clock ticks loudly
as the veal sizzles in the butter.
The window is open. There’s a breeze.
As I shake the copper skillet,
I sing a little to myself.
Cooking for oneself
is a special kind of feast—​​
the cheese and the meat fresh from the market,
and the wine, a Chardonnay
thoughtfully paired with the veal
by the shop owner who climbed his ladder
to the highest shelf
as if retrieving a rare book.
I also purchased an estate Bordeaux,
a wine that grows ever more delicious
as it is savored
glass by glass through the night.
I spread the white cloth. I lay the table.
I note that in my rented apartment
the simple flatware is stored in two earthen vases
and arranged like flowers.
In the antique store I passed on the street today,
I noted a display of Christofle silver spoons,
standing upright and tied together
like a bouquet of sunflowers
or a sheaf of wheat.
And then yesterday at the museum
there was Dali’s flatware,
Dali who sees the knife as a feather
or a snail with tears,
the spoon as a shell
or an artichoke leaf.
The long tines of the fork
are the tentacles of a squid with sapphire eyes
or the tusks of an elephant.
“The only difference between the Surrealists
and me,”
Dali says,
suddenly standing beside me,
“is that I am a Surrealist.”
The artist bows as he holds my chair
and seats me at a special table
in eternity’s preposterous and transcendent café,
a table for one
on a barren coast beneath a dying olive tree,
upon whose bare branch a clock is melting
like Camembert cheese.

Richard Jones is the author of seven books of poems from Copper Canyon Press, including Apropos of Nothing and The Correct Spelling & Exact Meaning. His newest collection is King of Hearts (Adastra Press). Editor of the literary journal Poetry East and its many anthologies, including Paris, Origins, and Bliss, he also edits the free worldwide poetry app, “The Poet’s Almanac.”