To rise from the table
he put his hands upon it—
ate and drank
and played cards upon it.
Wrote to his mother,
blessed her,
made politics upon it,
pressed the fly leaf,
let poinsettias yellow upon it,
dropped the bread and killed the crust upon it,
read his Edgar Allan Poe upon it,
sponged the boards and tumblers,
wedged and split
the knife upon it

but when he turned the table over,
its four legs up in the air
like a dead horse,
that’s when he ended our bargaining,
that’s when he gripped more than the table
and took more than signals from across the table,
more than tappings, rustlings, eye blinks,
negotiation’s soft wiring,
that’s when he lunged over the legs of the table,
that’s when at last—how long do I have to wait—
he turned over the precinct
and drafted his declaration and colonial address,
that’s when nothing could go on under the table
and that’s when he got the table to work.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Lee Upton's poem The Table

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