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             —From the dessert card at La Provença, Barcelona


The meal is something to be gotten through,
a sturdy litany of bream and hake
and turbot swathed in Pernod. There’s kangaroo
and pork and entrecote and oxtail baked
until it oozes marrow on the plate.

The salads, half-forgotten in the press
of sauces primed with raisins, nuts or leeks,
strike first. The bristling, gaudy greens are dressed
and gleam in oil and balsamic sheets
that loll across the tongue until the sweets.

It’s then, the table crumbed and starkly bare
as if to banish baser appetite,
that coy mischief and seduction share
attention in the second menu’s flights
of yogurt mousse with wild fruits, a light

unlikely soup (with lemon jelly) made
of melon and tomato. Chocolate comes
tri-textured and presented à la mode
with mild-oil ice cream. Champagne foams
over some other fruits. Our choices roam

from this to that—and what about that creamy
saffron with its precious melon pearls? At last
we settle. In truth, it almost seems unseemly
to continue. We’re full. Oh, we’ll fast
at home. What comes after is what lasts.