Something Different — 2nd Place
Small Talk at Nikos’s Grill House
by Jean Tucker
No one gets married any more says Marko
and flashes his mobile phone to show
the six-month-old who has his hair, his eyes.
This spanakopita is like a dish sponge.
You ought to taste my mom’s.
Hans, the ophthalmologist, has a spouse —
his second. Françoise asks
if it is true the human race is growing
progressively more myopic from too much text.
Hans says a study is under way with chickens
and sketches a cross-section of an eyeball
on the paper tablecloth between
the bread basket and the plate of cheese.
I wonder aloud to no one in particular
what sort of reading matter one would proffer
to chickens to test the eye hypothesis.
Jane fills her wine glass and declares
that she could never eat an animal
she had not killed herself. The black-eyed peas
twinkle at her from their bed of parsley.
She thumbs another message to the guy
who stood her up last night.
Andy has cleaned his plate
and reaches across Hans’s bow to spear
the last ripe olive from the cabbage salad.
He was baptized Orthodox, he says.
Me too, pipes Mary, in my Yiayia’s village.
And didn’t it take days to get the oil off?
Denise, eyes rimmed in kohl,
sits straight and solemn as the Minoan priestess
in the fresco unearthed at Akrotiri.
Only her fingers move as she rolls a cigarette.
She has found the one she wants to wed,
she states: It is herself. She murmurs
inch’Allah, vows to invite us all.
In the wedding video her dress
will foam with lace. She will be passing
the white crown hand-to-hand above her head
as dolphins play about her naked shoulders.