Eerie, the host’s hushed third-floor mirrored hall. Room after room, wall-lined Brazilian Rosewood-windowed cabinetry, lit within: ornate candelabra, outsized inlaid service trays, chubby cherubs circling silver icepails. I roamed rooms for a grand tureen the host’s wife insisted as centerpiece, that my mother’s lobster bisque, prepared for one hundred twenty, would fill. The first course.
Out of our basement came Angie’s catering business. Word of mouth lured the northwest suburban mansions to her calendar, double-booking every weekend, day events, evening affairs, three seasons until unfailing arctic cold felled the city again. Still she booked favorites.
Often we returned the following day, the retrieval of banquet prep tables, commercial-sized coffee makers, specialty knives, tools her alternating staff exhaustedly left behind. And always, down a manicured hill’s lawn edge lay a mammoth haphazard garbage heap. Heavy-duty garbage bags pecked and plucked wide open. Unrecognizable foodstuffs tumbled out atopthegreenexpanse.Incorruptiblehandsomeravens. Partaking of easy bounty.
The party event menus themselves took on rousing personalities. Clientele envisioned Angie a nourishing servant. Zeal glistened like hot pig fat on their faces. Paraded through homes, she was shown luxurious crooks and expanses. If some exotic object were cracked, broken, quite valuable otherwise, often it would be offered, and she took. Random rooms frequently kept exactly square, alabaster, utterly empty. Angie adored this.
No reason why, only she felt calm. I may be wrong. I find I’m wrong more and more often. Nothing to covet. No wish too heady. But Angie. In a boxy vacant room by herself with nothing-- burlesque-worthy, I have to figure. What of it. Never was one day with my mother in good conversation. I was assured those rooms had no windows. Barely doors. I listen to fable.
Once there was a jet-winged bird who gained a window where there was not one. It could tilt a polished eye with unfettered regard through ivy-framed glass. Like a most beneficent guided missile unsubtle and accurate, its beak so much more than capable. I bank on that raven in its hurtling descent, wings tucked tightly in, then the instinct instantly to outstretch utterly and break.
-- Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow has published two full length collections of poetry, Horn Section All Day Every Day, and The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor (Salmon, 2018 and 2012). Horn Section All Day Every Day was a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist. Other honors include the Red Hen Press Poetry Award, Tusculum Review Poetry Prize, Willow Review Prize for Poetry, a Beullah Rose/Smartish Pace Poetry Prize, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Plume Poetry Anthologies-Volumes 5, 7, and 11, Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books, American Journal of Poetry, Barrow Street, Gargoyle, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Ilanot Review, Los Angeles Review, Plume, Salamander, Smartish Pace, Texas Review, and Verse Daily, among other venues.