Pinochet and Foie Gras
The dinner was in my honour,
he said, for the visiting Englishman.
French exchange in eighty-eight.
Jean-Pierre’s friends included
another smallholder like him,
a land-owning communist lawyer,
a teacher, a builder,
and a young woman
who’d fled from Chile.
Whatever we talked about
has eroded with time;
if Proudhon and land-owning were aired,
wine would have kept things light –
our persiflage, a safer world,
worlds away from Pinochet.
The embodiment of grief sat still,
a tight-lipped aura we tried to include,
to ease the discomfiture
that she’d brought with her
what she’d left behind.
Next morning, a shrill dawn chorus
of shrieking, clanging pain woke me
like an arresting knock on the door,
manhandling me out of bed.
Over breakfast, Jean-Pierre smiled,
désolé, force-feeding, he said,
it’s cruel but necessary –
as if an apology could ever suffice.