Fiona Farrell

The Way of the Dishes 

Today I followed the
Way of the Dishes.
From Kinvara to Keelhilla
along the greasy road.

The dishes flew before me.
Cups, plates and bottles of
red wine, a joint of beef,
stewed leeks and white
bread, sliced for eating.

I could see them floating
just ahead, set upon a white
cloth. I could see the flap of
it, rising to cross a hedge
like a flat fish swimming
through clear water and
me beneath like a small
sprat following.

To follow was not easy. The
dishes rode across country,
taking hedges and ditches on
their white wings, while I was
trapped by my car and the
narrow ways of men. I had
to turn corners and guess at
my final destination.

I saw the dishes fly to a
cliff face and drop behind
bare branches, hazel and ash.

I parked the car and found the
cloth come to ground,
embroidered hem fluttering
by the saint’s bed. A heap
of fallen stone.

The saint was a lean man.
He picked at the beef and
poured salt over the leeks,
lest he be tempted.
He tossed his bread to the
sparrows and foreswore
the red wine, preferring
water from his blessed spring.

But his servant gnawed the bones
bare and spread good butter on his
bread. He drank his wine, thanking
whatever power it was that had
sent cloth and dishes, whatever
white hand it was that cooked
this food, and the kindly air that
carried it.

I watched from behind a tree as he
feasted while his master picked and
prayed. I watched his belly swell. I
heard him groan as his starved guts
cramped.

Within the hour he will be dead and
buried under a heap of stone.
While the saint will live,
revered by all for his restraint.

And the feast will grow mould,
the white cloth will rot and the
wine will turn to vinegar in
a tarnished cup.

Author’s Note

Sources

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