Poetry by Connie Soper
My mother gives me her mother’s china,
handed down through a chain of daughters
and with it the story of its luxury.
I hear all over again how my grandmother
mended, made do. Nothing afforded
for the sake of beauty itself but this china,
bought at the Bon Marche’ with three years of savings.
We box saucers, nest teacups to protect
them from chipping. I have no use
for egg coddlers, soup terrine, fragile cups
with tiny handles. No room
for them in my cupboards.
My extravagance is something different altogether.
Give me a substantial cup, something to wrap
my whole hand around in the morning.
Like this one bought at the Oregon Coast,
where I watched the miracle of whales breaching;
or these, carried home from Oaxaca, Umbria, Sante Fe.
Somewhere in Vermont a mug baked in a kiln
to the color of autumn leaves. When I drink from it,
I smell the earth and the loam and the clay.
“Wedgewood,” my mother says, and runs her fingers
around the gold rim. She recalls again her mother’s pleasure
at setting these dishes on a crocheted tablecloth,
elegant as an English garden, lively
with red peonies, climbing rose, and lavender butterflies.
She extends the box to me and I take it.
Connie Soper has come back to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have previously appeared in CALYX, Willamette Week, San Francisco Guardian, North Coast Squid, Ekphrastic Review, and elsewhere. She is also the author of a nonfiction book, Exploring the Oregon Coast Trail. She divides her time between Portland and Manzanita, Oregon. She loves and is continually inspired by the time she spends at the Oregon Coast.