Ice Breaker

That night we played the question game;
an ice breaker your daughter brought
to introduce her new friends.
A deck of cards. Each one asking us to reveal
a little more of ourselves.
Some quickly delineated the generational divide:
favourite TV shows from childhood for instance and
who you’d most like to meet, living or dead;
She picked Kurt Cobaine.             You - Greta Garbo.
The topic of food brought the benchmark closer -
overly sweetened or salted. Universally deep fried.
To ‘something your mother taught you’
the young man with the faint southern drawl
answered quickly ‘be kind’ his tongue softly clicking
the bottom denture in his mouth as he spoke.
The story of his missing teeth needing a little more wine
a little less moonlight for the telling.
The same young man took longer
when asked what made him angry
(whatever it was being forged between us
by this stage at stake)
Then finally, simply – ‘Falseness’ he said.
When pressed - ‘People hiding their intent.’
He wasn’t looking at any of us in particular
when he said that, when our circle seemed to contract
as some of us nodded our sincerest nods
and others recalled in silence
those times we selected our audience
according to their capacity for suspension of disbelief.
Eliciting some favour or promise,
rehearsing some part of ourselves as yet unformed
but in which we held great, disproportionate hope.
There were moments that night of true beauty
when all bets were off
between father and daughter, hosts and guests.
No one trying to be anything.
When what was held back, was held back for the good of all.

Jane Williams

If you have any comments on this poem,  Jane Williams  would be pleased to hear from you.