Lots of poets make things up for their poems, but I belong to that group who writes directly from my life. Yes, the "I" in "The Cup" is me. I don't pretend to have a "speaker.” If the poem is just about myself, why isn't it mere self-expression? Well, that is a matter of opinion, of course, but to me "The Cup" is art because the feelings are both deeply processed as well as released by the formal tensions between the lines, the vocabulary, the rhythms and the dropped stanzas that imitate dropping a cup. Please visit my website: http://mollypeacock.org/
Unable to quell a sudden urge for neatness,
I reached to put away my Summerhouse cup,
lifting up a wire shelf insert by mistake,
rolling a whole stack of china toward me,
barefoot in my nightgown on a step stool,
dropping the precious cup, which smashed
as I pushed both my hands to save the rest
I tried not to make too much
of the one I’d never lift to my lips,
throwing the pieces out immediately.
It’s only a cup,
You saved the rest.
Oh yes, I did, but just as in a classroom
where all the pupils quietly work but one who refuses,
my mind roves to an unlearning I mourn
even as I see the stacks
of all that has been accomplished—and saved.
Why couldn’t I have just had breakfast
before I started my tasks?
Because he was a flushed and violent boy
I had not thought of in twenty years
until his mother wrote me he had died,
not saying the cause,
and I cannot say the boy was the cause of my urge,
a sweaty boy caught hanging the shorter kids
up by their collars on the high coatroom hooks
and whose ruddy face looked so little like porcelain.
Reprinted from The Second Blush: Poems by Molly Peacock. Copyright © 2008 by Molly Peacock. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Editor's Note: Although I don't publish ads for stores, here's a plug for a fabulous independent bookstore in Manhattan where Molly has given many readings. And of course they sell Molly's books. You can order by phone or email: http://cornerbookstorenyc.com/
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