A Table Reserved in Your Name at a Burning Restaurant

Christmas, 2006 / No. 17

The diners have all fled the scene. They have survived

with their hides intact, and now the flames are eating

everything in sight: the crisp white linens, the black and red

carpets that made the floor seem deeper, somehow

connected with, somehow supported by, the belly

of the earth. And the high white ceiling opposite,

the sky inside, is blackened now and will collapse

at any moment. The fire teeth are gnawing

through the beams. The wiring snaps like sinews.

Soon the whole place will be swallowed, and yet,

in the kitchen, there is a chef who will not leave.

He’s still singing his worksong, still preparing your feast.