Judgement of Paris
Charlotte Pence

                                            ("For the Fairest One")
                                                   —Inscribed upon the apple of discord

At Bunco night, Athena steps on my toes under
the card table; her apology, that of the unrepentant,
rings shiny, smooth. Cupping her hands
over the dice, Aphrodite impugns: Give me fours!
and laughs when one die rolls off the table, bearing
a four. We declare everything a competition:
our homes, our husbands, even these hors d’oeuvres
we serve: cremini mushroom crostini with rosemary aioli.
Last night, a moon-heavy night, I saw three coyotes
circle a lost toy poodle in an open field.  How clear
could it be who will lose that battle?
Tonight, I will dream again of the Judgment of Paris,
of the Apple of Eris, of hands surrounding me,
open as in offering, hands, lotioned and fragrant,
open as if to take something away.  Aphrodite
only dreams of winning and shrieks BUNCO!
a sound not unlike the shortened squeal of a poodle
when it’s too late. Nothing civil about a group
coming together, whether for a game, or feast,
or wedding. We rise from the Bunco tables to the edge
of politeness, and aim ourselves toward Aphrodite,
to congratulate her of course, our stretched smiles
and perfumes linking together, our bodies forming
a circle, a cuff, closing in, closing together—slowly, stiffly.

Return to Spring 2009 Table of Contents