I should probably like Seamus Heaney more than I do. With all the best poets there’s that feeling of “Well, I can’t call myself good, really, after this.” With Heaney it’s “Well, I can’t really call myself a poet after this.” Even when I know the words he magnificently picks, I know at the same time my utter inability to use them interestingly. So I’m always less a fan than an envious lackey, which daunts my appreciation, I’m sure. Otros contains one poem called “Punishment,” about the mummy of an executed woman thrown into a bog in the Middle Ages. Heaney somehow communicates with the living woman across the centuries, gently.
My friend kat heatherington (one of those lower-case poets) is (rather like me) an anti-intellectual academic (that’s a compliment) who writes musical wisdoms from the heart of a rural, pagan, polyamorous life. This stubborn love poem is not an example of any of that.
poem for some dishes
my mother’s wedding china,
golden and umber, deep rich colors glowing with life,
arrives in a box, wrapped in butcherpaper.
my stepfather helped me haul it
out of the tight shed shelf in which it was wedged,
marked fragile, then stuffed into the furthest corner, forgotten.
they have been married for fifteen years,
but the strong silent man who carries the china back to the house
has never seen these dishes.
she had them wrapped and boxed and hidden
before he came to stay, she tells me,
our voices quiet so no one will know
that our subject touches on my father.
my father has almost forgotten the china, too.
china? he exclaims. you mean, you drop it on the floor and it breaks?
i don’t want it. —it’s not for you, i laugh, pulling out
the rich shining platter, a stray cup, reminding him. it’s mine now.
the yellowy copper hues are so thick,
i could use the serving bowl
for a scrying dish. you can see eternity in that golden brown.
weeks later, i pull the dishes from their paper disguise,
scrub fifteen years of dust from the bowls,
let crumpled paper litter my already untidy house,
and wait for you, trying to care, for a moment,
about the things a woman is supposed to care about—
eternal romance, a clean house, my mother’s wedding china,
intact in spite of the broken marriage—
—and all i really want is you, here and now.
no romance, no vows, no ‘forever,’
not even a white horse to carry us away—
i’ll take the littered floor,
the unwashed clothes, the mess we’ve made
of graduate school and career and all that
—if i can have you, now,
then the rest of these things
are enough to get us by,
to see us through the night (and the rent)
and the rest of the world
can go to hell
[kat would like you to check out her Website, https://sometimesaparticle.org.]
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