Putting the Pot Before the Course
The imbroglio started in checkout line three
when the woman who stood in line in front of me,
after unloading caviar, prime rib and ham,
heard the checker say, “That will be ninety bucks, ma’am.”
I listened with care as she started to vent
that her primary capital had all been spent,
and the place in her purse where her money had been
had been emptied by purchase of fine porcelain.
Dinner plates, soup bowls, a lovely tureen—
the most beautiful Limoges that she’d ever seen—
were nestled in sawdust in the trunk of her car
(with what she called a cruse but what I’d call a jar)
so ancient and fine that when next I might name it
I had to take care that I didn’t defame it.
It was indeed tasteful, but hadn’t much use.
Who would bake beans in a pot called a cruse?
Of course all of our discourse was beside the point,
for she hadn’t a bean—much less a fine joint
to cook up and serve on her bone China dishes,
for in spite of all of her most tasteful wishes,
she hadn’t a penny to spend on the food,
and though it went unmentioned lest I be thought rude,
she left minus prime rib, coq a vin, and her knishes,
so hadn’t a morsel to grace those fine dishes.