Bone China


I want to leave something behind
like the maid who cracked one night
the length of her heart,
who crept shaking down the staircase
to where the service shone on the dresser,
plates pale as a row of moons.

She stacked them in her arms –
a weight greater than all she owned –
bore their white tower to the kitchen garden
where she stood between the soft fruit beds
and smashed each one against the wall
with a planetary anger.

That dawn she walked out of her story forever,
though her flavour salted the servants’ tongues for months,
and clearing the ground a hundred years later
of this self-seeded scrub of ash
I can still piece bits of her together – white and sharp –
as if the earth were teething.

from The Silence Living in Houses (Bloodaxe, 2005), © Esther Morgan 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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