After the Ritual

The chairs are askew,
And the children
Are tousled
And smeared with food --
Walking palettes,
Paused at life's messy canvas.

The men fold tables,
The women make
With dish towels
And speak
Of who will host
Next year.

The air is moist,
Smelling of spilled wine
And spent thunderstorms.

The teenagers resume watching
Sex and the City;
The elders
Conduct gentle inquisitions
Of their granddaughters'

The majesty of the moment
Has departed,
But in its gentle wake
Is the ageless
Wonder of all
That we may come to know --

And rest, rest:
The relief
And the exultation
Of the newly dead.

--Mr. Gobley

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