China Cabinet


To celebrate National Poetry Writing Month, I attended a poetry workshop on Sunday. One exercise was to write a direct address poem to something on a shelf in my home.

China Cabinet

You passed hands through generations
the repository of aged and foreign gifts
a family’s prized dna preserved in amber
wood, curved, glued, etched and oiled
your beveled doors and skeleton key guarding
treasures from childhood’s inquisitive fingers.

I remember you, china cabinet children
those exquisite painted faces
skin cracking and seams parting.
I cradled your infant limbs
your flopping head, the ties binding you
lengthening and loose.

Your hair was shorn from a stranger
bound remnants of a life long dead
red silk fusty and ivory fading to rust
sewn forever around you.
But you are not forever as neither am I
nor the mothers who dusted these shelves
or polished this silver.

We will come to clay again, I before you
and you will collect my past in your vault
of family antiquities I no longer recall
for you are all that remembers the dead.
You are all that remains of the dead.