The Spectral Dinner Party

Last night the room was full of ghosts 

 diaphanously dressed. 

We were the unassuming hosts. 

 Each out-of-focus guest 


sat round the table where my wife 

 and I dined on our own. 

The misty lifting of a knife, 

 a sip of Côtes du Rhône, 


the scraping of a Wedgewood plate 

 with an ethereal fork 

accompanied our moderate 

 and insubstantial talk. 


Friends long departed shared a joke 

 we couldn’t quite define. 

My mother laughed. My father spoke 

 in terms of auld lang syne. 


My brother, who had died too soon, 

 added some Parmesan; 

he ate spaghetti with a spoon, 

 a red-faced trencherman – 


or so I thought, yet when I looked 

 again he wasn’t there. 

The pasta I’d robustly cooked 

 served only two. The air 


was empty. Nothing was unmasked. 

 The fact uniquely hurt, 

till my departed cousin asked 

 what dish was for dessert. 


uncollected, © Paul Groves 2023, used by permission of the author

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