A Covered Dish

By: Katie Condon

Instead of attending
The End of Semester Holiday Potluck,
where Kimberly will hold forth
about the unmatched dexterity
of her cat and Jim will call together
his congregation by the hors d’oeuvres
to virtue signal about virtue signaling,
I will stay at home and bleach my mustache
and drink a dirty gin martini and read
the scene in The Corrections where Chip
throws cocktail parties for the academic elite
and I will laugh at them as Franzen intended
and you will laugh at me for reading Franzen
because no one is supposed to like Franzen
except in secret and to bring up Franzen
in conversation would be social suicide
at The End of Semester Holiday Potluck
where now, I presume, Kevin is misquoting
Nietzsche to talk about his sex life and Camille,
who up until this point has said nothing,
says nothing still, raising an eyebrow
with indecipherable anger because Kevin
is just another self-absorbed academic
who got his degrees thanks to grade inflation
in the early 2000s and has made a career
out of complaints and well-timed jokes,
which is more than I can say for myself
whose career is made merely of words
strung together in a clever order, saying
nothing much other than I am happy
I am not at The End of Semester Holiday Potluck
but that if I were I would find a way
to kidnap the cat, poor thing, quarantined
in the bedroom, forced to listen to the muffled
noise of a whole people who forgot about
the night outside, its utter size.

Katie Condon is the author of Praying Naked, winner of 2018’s The Journal Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize. Her recent poetry has appeared in The New Yorker and Ploughshares. She is an assistant professor of English at SMU.

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