The dearest of dinners
with my Godmother, Marion,
have one infamous, isolated incident
that I always dread.

She wears the most potent cherry lipstick
on an enormous, earnest grin.
And when she sees her Little Prince.
And I go in for the hug
and she plants a strong, cherried kiss
on my stubbled cheek,
I always ask Mother
‘Do I have any … on my… ?’
And Mother pantomimes a swift wipe of the finger.
I subtly lick my right thumb
and drag it across my graffitied face
like a Squeegee.

Now, it’s always with the presentation
of the Dessert Menu –
this Seventh-inning stretch
that you’re either on the bus or off.
I graciously pass, but scrap some sugar
off Mother’s Crème brûlée anyway.
This makes good time
for larger than smalltalk,
because everyone has had their fill
and it’s time to be real now.

But like a spoiled Little Prince
atop Blue Velvet
artfully covering the firm oak chair –
I find it hard for the posture;
no wonder the backaches.
Distracted by other gruesome companions –
the metallic- green oxygen tanks lined with opaque nostril tubes,
that these elders’ lives are supported –
I mark this place as Death.
But I understand its expediency
and don’t philosophize,
and follow suit with a cordial nod –
the Little fucking Prince you are.

My Godmother, Marion,
clinches my forearm –
with matching cherried fingertips
and canyon wrinkles
and cobalt veins –
and with airy breathes, whispers
‘You know,
you can sharpen pencils for the rest of your life,
as long as you’re happy’ –
and then her frail grip falters
and with grace, moves up my right bicep
to give me a few ‘you’ll find your way’ taps.

Across the table
my cousin Chuck,
88 years and still playing doubles tennis,
looks at the Dessert Menu –
orders a hot dog with everything.
And with that quick, cunning wink –
he was always such a joker.
Marion’s hand begins to shake
and I understand
it’s out of her control.
I know, I know.
Don’t be embarrassed.
She lifts her other hand
that got less of the quakes
over the trembling one.
Chuck glances over the Dessert Menu, again,
and orders a Hot Fudge Sundae
with whipped cream and sprinkles –
which he calls “pussy ants.”
The waitress thinks he’s a hoot.
And with that quick, cunning wink –
he was always such a joker.

And there’s Marion.
Honest Maid, Marion.
God Mother Marion.
I look in there, deep,
into 68 years of marriage
with twelve grandchildren
and one solemn reflection
of her Prince,
her Darling.

At the door we say bye, bye
for now, of course.
And I go in for the hug
and that cherried kiss
on my stubbled cheek.
I keep the Squeegee in my pocket.