Dinner Party
by M. Doretta Cornell

The doors swing open suddenly
as if on another planet where
we think "fingers" and toes move,
or try to breathe, and hair braids itself.

The others talk earnestly among themselves,
they tell me things as if they were urgent.

My words seem to emerge from some other orifice,
as fingernails, or sweat, needing no answer,
evoking a little embarrassment, begging
to be ignored.

Like a cat evading the wind,
the self curls in its carrier, tail over nose,
and slits its eyes, while the puppet body
nods and passes breadsticks.

Dead words
wash over it, sound without faces, gestures
vain and rustling as the stalks of zinnias
once the snow has curled them to rust.

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