The Reception

by Martha Owens

I do confess we all were flushed with wine,
and to our right, I was the first to see
his mother leave her lady friends and start
approaching us. She made her matter-of-fact
request, and he replied with playful smirk,
Dear Woman,”in a way that made me laugh,

But undeterred, she pursed her lips into
a tight, pink smile, and gave instructions. Then
she kissed him near his ear and may have said
hushed words before she went back to her seat.

He got up from the table with a groan,
then put his hand on top of my hot head
to steady himself as he straightened up.

“Come on,” he said…but we were so relaxed…
he waved us with his arm repeatedly
and jerked his head toward somewhere in the back.

We walked into the room, one at a time,
and found him talking to some puzzled men
about some pots and water to be poured.

They shrugged and looked at one another; then
they loudly poured the water, pot by pot.

He held his hands above the pots and said
a low “Thank you,” then looking strangely up
stepped back before the steward drew a cup.

He shuddered lightly, just as if someone
had stomped fiercely across his grave, and that
red wine was glistening in the lamplight like
the drops of blood and sweat that drip and run
down dead men’s faces in Judean sun.