A Child's Plate c. 1840


This is the last of you, consigned
as part of a collection to Sotheby’s
for an afternoon auction. Lifted from
the salt-glazed stoneware teapots –

a Staffordshire child’s plate,
polychrome, 5-3/4” in diameter.
Impressed on the border, a pearl-white
pattern of alternating pinwheel daisies.

In the center, a garden scene –
handpainted in orange, yellow, red and
green – an oblivious boy, intent
on his book, and a young girl pining:

The tulip and the butterfly
appear in gayer coats than I -
Let me be dress'd fine as I will,
such poesie exceeds me still.


Your first discovery, unearthed
from an outing to Portobello Road. Later,
when I got back from my conference,
you presented it to me in triumph.

I remember it, your smile –
the same smile you had that last night,
propped among your pillows and tubes,
the muted blip of the bedside monitor

pacing my own heart. You pressed
my palm with the soft of your thumb,
whispered finally to me Piaf’s:
Non, je ne regrette rien.

But this is mine: that I might have seized
more zealously our days with one another.
And now, this is all that is left of you,
the pearlware figurines, the pottery

figural clocks, the thimbles, the scent-bottle
holders, enamel necessaires. And they mean
nothing, nothing – only your smile
remembered, wistful, underglaze.


15 comments:

  1. Short link - http://bit.ly/s4childsplate

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  2. You have a wonderful way with words. Thank you for the read.

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  3. Anonymous1:25:00 PM

    There is life in this poem. Really beautiful work :)

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  4. Finely written - love the finally two lines:

    nothing, nothing – only your smile
    remembered, wistful, underglaze.

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  5. strong imagery, well done.

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  6. Wonderful words choices and like the images you provoke, strong piece!

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  7. You build a whole life up out of fragments--yet it's totally complete, totally visible. I literally sighed out loud at the end. The plate, round as a circle,a perfect symbol here of the heart's journey. Fine writing, Sam.

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  8. this turned painfully emotional for me toward the end there...and then the release...ack, you got me sam...

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  9. Beautiful, tender poem. You are a gifted writer.

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  10. oh sam...this brought tears to my eyes..wonderfully written - so tender and honest

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  11. I could do nothing but cry...it reminded me of my mother...Hard to say such a sad piece is so beautiful but it is.

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  12. Exquisite, Samuel-- heart-driven and so beautifully wrought; filagree...xj see what you think of my latest! xxj

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  13. Oh you have the knack of drawing your reader in to a seemingly innocuous scenario, then pulling the emotional carpet out from under the feet. What a painful narrative this is, and the last stanza a masterpiece.

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  14. Thank you all, it's wonderful to hear such kind words.

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