Years of coffee, cigarette ash, and
politics stained its surface. Each night,
my grandmother ground them
down with a worn dishcloth until
only oak remained.
With every year, we stayed up later,
passing conversations like borrowed
china across that table.
voices burrowed through the wood
and the finish.
When I was twenty, she covered it
with a tablecloth. Our cups kept skidding
across the cheap plastic.
She cut it, checkered
squares to guard her hydrangeas
against October frost.
We speak now of our marriages, discarded
like last night’s table scraps.
wedge themselves in the long cracks
of that kitchen table. I
flick them out,
night after night, with a butter knife.