After the gathering: “The Archaeology of Hospitality”

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I included this poem in a scrapbook created after my daughter’s rite of passage. It is by my friend, Drew Ward, and it captures so eloquently the magical richness of ruminating over gatherings and events evidenced by the artifacts of smudged glasses and dirty dishes.

As we fill up our minds and souls this National Poetry Month with good, nourishing thought-food, may we enjoy this tasty poetic appetizer on the benefits of gathering together:

The Archeology of Hospitality

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

In the early morning light

They stand on the counter like monuments to another time—

Dirty bowls,

Lip-smudged silverware,

Finger-smudged glasses.

Emptying the sink will be an excavation,

A dig through strata of tableware and cooking utensils,

Uncovering relics

Of last night’s brief backyard civilization,

Where a moonlit people

Ate and talked and worshipped,

Laughed and sang and made a world together.

They made alliances of an hour

Or of a glance

Or spanning the precarious epoch of a joke.

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

And though I’m up to my elbows this morning in soapsuds

And the artifacts of a bygone culture,

I smile,

Knowing they are not lost—

They have merely passed out of the door,

But not out of the world.

And Tuesday another great people will arrive

To leave their own indelible mark

Scattering remnants of their habitation

On countertops and coffee tables—

Leaving us forever changed.     —Drew Ward (7/11/06)

 

Beautiful, isn’t it? . . . .

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6 thoughts on “After the gathering: “The Archaeology of Hospitality”

  1. Checking in 10 seconds after this was posted to say this is one of my favorite poems ever! (I have my own copy, and I return to it every time I pass an evening with “great people” because this poem SPEAKS.)

    • Yes, it is great, isn’t it? It really captures the aftermath well, and puts it in a glittering light. Sort of like the acres of aftermath pavlovas lined up in the laundry room, or the meat pies waiting for eager eaters after some other party I went to . . . long live meaningful celebrations and back alley meat pies!

      • Back alley indeed! Don’t forget lamb stashed in the garage and the lamington assembly line. And piles of palm fronds and scattered Kiwiana and black smudges on door handles from out-of-contol mokos…

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