Traditionally, the rich partook of diamonds
in the drawing room just before dinner.
Butlers filled and passed the heirloom lith-bowls
made of ebony or jet, and subtly shaped
to show to advantage the clarity, the fire.
To employ a family crest or other personal symbol
has always been considered execrable taste but
at State and Embassy functions, it has not been uncommon
to see one’s country’s flag displayed in coloured gems
on a small rectangular tray above one’s service plate.
However, since good cheap synthetics are available now,
many discriminating people have turned to laser-shaped obsidians
imported from Armenia or Greece, or hand-knapped flints
from paleolithic sites in Middle Belgium or Southwest France.
A small monogram may be engraved on each.
The newly rich debate the merits of river stones
from the Amazon, the Volga, the Nile.
They choose colors that match their decor,
shapes that complement their latest dinnerware,
textures that enhance the dining experience.
They arrange the stones in individual dishes
garnished with rose petals or eucalyptus leaves,
or on polished boards of exotic woods, or in perfect shells.
They are careful to select compatible wines.
Vegetarians, Progressives, and others of that ilk
use organic pebbles which they gather from pure sources
in local mountains or deserts and pile in pottery crocks
or scatter in fountains of filtered rainwater.
They select and swallow a few any time of day,
whenever they feel the need.
The poor grab whatever they can get:
broken cement, beach glass,
a handful of winter gravel
left over on the edges of the road.
MP May 16, 2008