Pieces of torn bread on the tablecloth.
Plates empty in front of them as if they
have just removed the halos they will wear
in a few years. Jesus holds out his arms
like he is scolding them for such a mess.
They look startled, like they are seeing it
for the first time: it couldn’t be their fault.

Leonardo claimed this is the moment
of Christ’s announcement of betrayal,
and of course it is not clear who Judas is.
But what I notice is the wine—or seeming
lack of it. No goblets. No chalice.
The grail no bigger than a shot glass.

Yet somehow that makes sense.
That makes sense. A bartender measures
as reminder of the power that he serves.
We sip liqueurs between our fingertips.
It takes so little to be satisfied.
It takes so little to linger
in camaraderie. Only a heartbeat
of belief is necessary.
By small increments we learn to taste.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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