(circa 1887-        )


You evaded the fire-storm, reaching the shore

Of the New World long before, so nothing

To speak of has shaken you more than the rage


In my father’s voice or my brother’s infant fist

Shattering a pane of the china closet, leaving you

Unharmed (the shards swept away, the glass


Replaced in a day). Through it all you never

Were lifted, never filled, until at the close

Of the century I asked for you. A door


Opened: you were offered without a pang,

Without a story. Nothing have I beheld

As perfectly made—but are you the craft


Of a human hand or a portal to splendor?

Burnt umber glazes my espresso,

I’m adrift yet home, my lip touching


Yours touching gold; and when I’m done

I peer over the brim to find a faded

Corona within. Your fluted pedestal


Gives you balance, you contain an eternity

Of sighs: at the bottom, where you taper

And the dregs settle, thick enough to muffle


Any cry, a blossom abides in the center

(Even when you are empty something is there).

Sometimes I study the scallops of your body,


Slipping my fingers along your contours,

Curious about your lineage, wondering

Who else marveled at your lightness, your near-


Transparency, turning you over then to see

The mark of your maker—a blue lamb

Standing by a gilded rose, its feet resting


On a slender line, a single brushstroke saying,

This is the earth that will hold whatever

Dwells here, this the border dividing above


From below; and under this line, in a script

Deliberate and free, run the letters telling

Where you became what you are:


You were born in a lull called peace

In a kiln in Meissen, from a mound of clay

In the river’s mossy marsh. You were reborn


In Dresden, adorned by a master-painter

Of flowers that bloom in fire. You arrived

In a steamer trunk in New York Harbor.


You need no saucer, have no mate.

I will look after you and pass you on,

Hoping you stay for the last drop of the last

Day, the future for which you were made.


(To return to the Winter 2015 Table of Contents, click here.)

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