Poetry, wine, music, a plate of cream puffs
At the poetry reading, I eat cheese and pickles. Not ordinary cheese and pickles, but poetic cheese and imagistic pickles, lying on a plate, a paper doily underneath. I can barely breathe. The pickles; cheese, blue and crumbling; the brie, melting; the crackers, stoic; the poet standing by with a glass of wine, hand to cheek. The music swells.
The poet says, It’s hard. People nod sympathetically, one eye locked on the kitchen door, swinging open now and then as servers carry in trays of mousse de saumon and crudités.
And then, a silver plate of cream puffs appears. I hesitate. What will it do to my heart? This could put me over the edge and across the Connector, helicopter blades chopping over Merritt, past Hope, straight to Vancouver General. What will it do to my interior? Have you had one? asks the bearded professor in the stiff blue sweater. No, I answer. Here. He holds up the tray. The cream puff disappears in a breath of vanilla.
Oh, it is so much colder than expected. More come, and soon we stand nodding together. I know, I know, we all seem to say with our little sighs, popping one in, while holding another. A small group gathers and tries not to drool in the joy of the perfectly chilled vanilla puff because the poet is looking, the foyer is emptying, and everyone moves reluctantly into another room, another country, one without food or music, where a poet waits at a podium, while the feathery pastry that floats on a pool of butter somewhere between your teeth and your stomach leaves the lightest footprint in the place where all tragedies occur, before the poetry even starts.