(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.)
Levin, Phillis. 2015. Demitasse. Tikkun 30(1): 71.