Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Provenance by Jennifer Compton

Provenance

There will be no card in the post come October with a $20 note tucked inside
           a card with a horse's head or a bouquet tied with ribbon
                     a looping scribblewritten propped up in bed
                               recommending cake or a box of chocs.

*

As I predicted no card arrived from the woman who had given me my birthday.
It would have been remarkable if it had. But I checked the letterbox. No card.
I don’t much like cake and chocolate. Once I had caved in to my own tastes
I always bought smokes. I checked the letterbox again. Still nothing. How odd.
I feel as light as the fruit of a dandelion, or a puff of smoke, I light a cigarette.
I look at the sky, I pull a weedbarefoot my birthday, and still no card yet.

*

I know the glass dog with one leg missing, which could stand if propped
against the side mirror of her dressing table
his nose like a blueberry, his raspberry eyes—

was sent by her brother, during the war, from Belgium, and broken en route.
           But now I will never know the provenance of the plate that
                    was always used for pavlova—topped with passionfruit,

or chinese gooseberries, or tree tomatoes. I have it in my dresser, propped,
           did people gift cake plates, or was it for the glory box?
                     If I never asked now I will never know.

There is no way of knowing. Everyone who knew the provenance of things
is dead. The old women, who tended these things
a flick of the dust rag, and every once in a while

a dip in soapsuds and a roll and a pat in a towel—all the old women are gone.
Does anyone know that my toast rack shaped like a swan
                       was a wedding present from great-aunt Nell back in 1971?



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