Shells or hollowed out stones, curved bones.
Woven leaves, shaped clay, glazed and fired.
Tin, porcelain, glass, pale ceramic, paper or plastic.
The cup, we are told, holds on, invented by no one,
made to contain and appease: water, tea, coffee,
hot chocolate or pudding, carrot soup, a carnival
of uses. One handled, two handled, painted or plain.
There is no one, I imagine, who is against the cup,
even the unmatched cup alone in its namesake
cupboard, its twin having fallen with a great noise
to the floor in shards and stars. A grandmother
somewhere in time packed her cups in a suitcase,
carried them into the new world on a ship, the frosted
waves clashing and shattering under the tinfoil moon.
Not one of her packed cups cracked. When she died
she left them to her daughter who swaddled them
in newsprint, her hands shaking as she put them away,
the same hands she cupped around her mother’s face,
drinking her in before the last wave washed her away.
Listen to Dorianne read "The Cup" below:
Pulitzer Prize finalist DORIANNE LAUX'S Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems is available from W.W. Norton as are her award winning books, Facts about the Moon and The Book of Men. Her poems have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Romanian, Dutch, Afrikkans, Bulgarian and Brazilian Portuguese. She teaches poetry at North Carolina State University and is founding faculty at Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program.