The Clarity of the Table
A January thaw flying like a foraging snowy owl and throws a late morning sun into the kitchen illuminating the ducks eggs in a Syracuse china bowl in a scoured white iron sink. “We'll put everything on the table, and then find clarity.” A Dutch painting, game birds piled high on a table with a pewter pitcher and two rabbits hung from a peg the wall behind, the painting's precision appetite compressed into food snared on the canvas. The Dutch knew the clarity of the table in a meaningful still life and to live life with that invested attention takes duck, goat, lamb, licorice, bay leaves, mutton, chicken, pickled things and a just butchered roast. Clarity is a cool larder with crockery, things tied with string, dried herbs, brine in jars, and metal lids screwed tightly to the upturned glass jar fish faces. Finding clarity is work bringing art in blue cheese stuffed hamburgers, olive oil painted across the palette in the pizza dish, and a letter written home about the food, the way food used to be reported in The New York Times, when the Times understood that clarity was the providence of the kitchen, and sated contradictory absolution was a place at the table.
Paul Doty is a Public Service Librarian at St. Lawrence University. Paul has published essays or poems in publications such as the Reference Librarian, the Leaflet, Mississippi Review, Stone Canoe, Cortland Review, and Rootdrinker. He resides in Canton, New York, with his wife and youngest daughter, a house full of books, and a garage full of canoes.