invited poet at the tea-parties and The White Elephant Stall
was Esther Morgan

Way of Life

Someone has laid our table tonight
with curatorial flare:
arranging that artful
vase of roses,
flinging a well-worn jacket
over the back of a chair
with affected carelessness.

Someone wants us to suspend
our disbelief,
to trust in the garden beyond the door,
in the flesh and blood woman
who’s about to walk through it
with loam on her shoes,
who’ll pour a nonchalant glass of red
and make herself at home.

Meanwhile the stainless knives
pose for the light;
a loaf of bread deliberates
its wholeness;
the white dinner plates
have the concentrated stare
of faces kept behind glass.

Whatever came before this
is between us.

The Object and Memory Workshop

1.
This black iron pot
she lifts down every August
in order to mix
whatever’s rich
and heavy in her life
is her mother.

This book with her name
inked neatly in the fly-leaf
is her wizard
story-spinning father
telling her once again
how Dorothy got home.

2.
These small things bring them back to life
not as they were then,
but in the light of their own deaths:

A woman swirls a ‘blue bag’
round a bowl of water –
Whiter than white, whiter than white.

Her daughter watches as she lifts
a sheet up to the line, vanishing behind
its saintly dazzle.

3.
I too want to be kept safe –
something humble and needed,
a dailiness like prayer or bread.

My daughter’s daughter’s daughter
lays her table with these silver spoons
worn down on one side

and what she knows of me is this:
that I ate right-handed,
that I scraped my bowl clean.

Esther Morgan at The WI tea party reading poems from her collection The Silence Living in Houses

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