CENTERPIECE

Mountain summits are like restaurants:

Restrained and silent nonchalance

Hopefully informs the dinette

Or the floral plastic set

Against the infinite abyss

Of the linen's folded precipice:

Given any less atmosphere,

Tasteful life (at least) must disappear,

As a shortage of specific breadth

Is, I think, designer death -

Although some mountain madness hints

At a stranger sort of ambiance -

An air that's something of a paradox,

Equating glamour as it does with rocks,

Confident that all one needs to see

To feel at home is scree

(A flowery cook's poetic babble

For what his customers call gravel),

But nonetheless the fingerprints

Whose glory lies in fingers' absence,

The smudges of a kleptomaniac

Whose sole allure lies in his lack

Of presence, who's only here, like air,

When it looks as if he isn't there,

A state of mind where earth

Is celebrated mainly for its dearth,

Where the world seems finally okay

Because the dirty ground is far away,

And where, to call a bird's attention

To a blossom's culinary invention,

All the forces of bad weather

Must pull their sullen selves together

And focus galaxies of champagne

On a rather meaningless moraine:

Air and water, earth and fire

Must somehow manage to conspire

(Before the chef gets any duller)

And decorate the room with blooming color -

All the meteors in the sky must shower

If they want to make a flower.