Bottle of Wine, Carl Dennis

Bottle of Wine
By Carl Dennis

I like to park a few blocks from the house of my hosts
And walk with my bottle of wine the tree-lined streets,
Anticipating the dinner with friends that awaits me.
A bottle of wine showing not only that I’m grateful
To be included but that I’m eager to do my part,
To offer a gift that won’t survive the evening,
That says I’ve set aside the need for transcendence
And made my peace at last with living in time.
Soon we’ll welcome the evening with a toast.
Soon we’ll be toasting it in farewell
As it starts on its journey into the near past
And then the far. Do the houses I’m passing
Regard me as a creature about to vanish
Into the realm of shadow while they have resolved
To hold their ground? But the bottle I’m carrying
Shows how the past can enhance the present.
The grapes it was made from were plucked and pressed
Seven years ago in a vineyard in Burgundy
According to customs already in place for generations
By the time these houses moved from the realm
Of blueprints and estimates into brick and wood.
The bottle will testify that traditions once honored
Are being adhered to still, with patience, with pride.
And if the past is present this evening, isn’t the future
Present as well in the thought that the ritual
I’m helping to pass along will prove enduring,
That however much the world around it may alter,
Guests will still perform it in eras to come?
I hope I feel their presence in spirit
Under these trees later this evening
As I walk back to my car with empty hands

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