Old Country Portraits

My lost sister used to try the trick
with the tablecloth, waiting until
the wine had been poured, the gravy boat filled,
before snapping the linen her way
 
smug as a matador, staring down
silver and crystal that would dare move,
paying no mind to the ancestor gloom
gliding across the wallpaper like clouds
 
of a disapproving front—no hutch
or bureau spared, no lost sister sure
the trick would work this time, all those she loved
in another room, nibbling saltines,
 
or in the kitchen, plating the last
of the roast beef. How amazed they would be
to be called to the mahogany room
for supper, to find something missing,
 
something beautiful, finally, they could
never explain, the wine twittering
in its half-globes, candles aflutter, each
thing in its place, or so it seemed then,
 
even though their lives had changed for good.

Poem copyright ©2017 by Richard Robbins, "Old Country Portraits," from Body Turn to Rain, (LynxHouse Press, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Richard Robbins and the publisher.