I accept a party invitation.
A valet takes my car. The hosts and their dog
greet me. I meet Oopsi, a tall poodle, named
for accidents caused by her wagging tail.
A waiter offers me a martini,
stokes me for the clusters of people
trying to connect over movies, books, and trips,
hoping, like me, to be seen and heard. I carry
a security blanket, a topic to discuss: Maslow’s
moments of high happiness called peak experiences.
I'm relieved when Trudy appears with her
waterfall of words: A bead fell off my gown
and the seamstress fixing it had a heart attack. I called
a locksmith and broke in to retrieve this dress
for tonight. She shows where the bead is missing.
In my plain black knit, ready to move on, I say,
Excuse me, I need to say hello to someone.
Like glue, Trudy says, I’ll come with you.
Oopsi rubs her white curls on tuxedoed legs. She smells
bacon-wrapped appetizers. Her nose quivers.
Trudy and I want treats too. We follow Oopsi
to a group being served. Patrice complains,
the food’s fatty, grabs another, and says, I have reflux.
Migraines, backaches, kidney stones, prostates,
and menopause compete, ending with Trudy’s
I almost died and Patrice’s I wanted to kill myself.
I suggest talking about peak experiences:
Trudy drones on about Aspen. Patrice, the Alps.
I slip away, fill a plate at the buffet, and sit by Oopsi.
She looks into my eyes and listens to everything I say.
This poem first appeared in Necessity is a Mother.
Used here with the author’s permission.