For quite a while now each year we've celebrated winter solstice with good friends, Bill and Donna, Dale and John – one of our rituals We share the meal, one couple bring the entrée, the host cooks the mains and the other couple bring the sweets. This year we’re a little later than usual – yesterday, July 4th, a date which English born and raised Roger claims as Rebellion Day. I don’t know how loud he says it in upstate New York where he resides at present.
We used to rotate the venue for this midwinter meal but my health dictates it taking place here now. It was very tasty. Bill & Donna brought the entrees to have for starters and ratatouille to accompany the main, plus very good wine. Dale and John made individual chicken, bacon and leek pies and potato gratin. Anne contributed a lemon meringue pie – very lemony just as I like it.
It was a leisurely occasion. Anecdote, mirth, issues and hopes dominated the scene apart from sounds of appreciation. Here’s a poem I wrote after such a meal with these two couples over twenty years ago. As I considered it light verse I didn’t publish it until it appeared in 'Goya Rules' earlier this year. It might be slight but it records an occasion and a period as all verse does.
Harder than it appears
your challenge to grow a poem
from friendship’s alluvium.
Flicking through my latest
you growl, ‘Never dedicated
anything to me you hound!’
So, as if by order, one is bound.
Chicken, cashew, Chinese cabbage
I’ve shopped & chopped
stirred & served;
now you demand verse as well:
World full of folly & delight
gales of laughter over pinot noir.
We set nearly everything all right.
It doesn’t matter: that fight in Israel
& the Gaza Strip, Tranzrail’s down the creek
& forecast’s snow.
You relate a detail about your
Leningrad visit, row upon row
of pickled freaks - Peter’s museum.
I had never heard of its existence.
Grotesque and gothic grows our humour.
Leaving late you pronounce:
‘You need to clear your path.’
An evening of affability and affinity
to serve as (sauce) to be written up.
So here’s your verse, and lump it.
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