Monday, July 15, 2013


When I was in junior high, as an English assignment, the teacher had us write a paper about a fantasy dinner party, The Great Dinner Party of the Mind. Anybody could come to the party, living or dead.  She wanted old monarchs mingling with modern day celebrities, assassinated presidents sitting next to grandparents. I didn't take the assignment all that seriously, and remember two of my guests: Sid Vicious and Sharon Tate. I had known very little loss at that point in my life.

She was beautiful,
really she was.
But you’ll have to take my word for that now.
Harry Houdini promised his wife and friends
that after his death
they would hear from him.
But they never heard a sound.
I imagine her there with Houdini,
near the head of the table,
at the Great Dinner Party of My Mind.
A slightly different version from the one we wrote about for 8th grade English class,
the guest list amended by tragedy and time.
Whatever Houdini found once he got there,
I’d like to believe it was so great
he didn’t want to ruin the surprise.
But death may be one dinner party
where no guest dares to interrupt the host.

 © Fiona Helmsley

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