The Last Supper

Maria Hummel

The last supper is pudding in a plastic cup. The last supper is the heaviest pear from the backyard tree, and the mare sliding into canter, and the voice of your eldest son, calling to his son. The last supper is oysters and the ocean inside them. The last supper is winter light. The last supper is whatever you savored and remember savoring. Whatever you didn’t want to end. Sometimes you swallow your last supper years before you die, and all the other meals are just a good taste fading. Sometimes you never bite into your last supper. It waits for your open mouth, invisible but known, like the moon in the daylight sky. There are those who insist their last suppers were stolen by others. Beware of them: They are dangerous men and women, prone to scraping your insides and claiming it is love. Some gave away their last supper long ago; they smile, gentler and lighter than us, but they seem to have no recognizable human hunger. Some will never know their last supper when it arrives. They keep seeking, though their cheeks are stuffed with lamb and mint, their throats are drinking cream. Some will insist, this is my last supper, over and over, and keep surviving the wrong desire. You could be your last supper, or your last supper could be you: the order of life is, like the order of words, finite and infinite in meaning. It’s hard to guess from this close up, and being so afraid of death, so young in the face of time, that lavish repast of dawns, that smorgasbord of twilights, that picnic of stars.

Maria Hummel is the author of the poetry collection House and Fire, winner of the APR/Honickman Prize, and four novels, most recently Lesson in Red (Counterpoint, 2021). She lives in Vermont.