Academic journal article The Hudson Review

The Gift Bowl

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

The Gift Bowl

Article excerpt

i.m. Janet Wiltshire

That there's no hand or cheek of you

to touch now,

that no dimension of you still exists,

is almost true,

when suddenly, unexpectedly,

I reach you.

This blue-glazed potter's bowl, for instance,

holds my thoughts of you

choosing the bowl, and your thoughts

choosing it for me-

a compote of fruit more real

than apples or plums.

Just so, your afterlife becomes

as in your paintings, possible.

Not memory exactly, not prosy chat:

"Those were the days," or

"Then we did this, then we did that."

Like poetry

your visits are unpredictable,

meetings of minds

free of bodies and words on a common shore

of places and times

I'd say it was our "destiny" to share,

if destinies were

acceptable anymore. Echoes of echoes

whisper in my ear

when I tilt your bowl to distant pulsars

like a radio telescope.

The place is a house with a porch in Connecticut.

The time is the war.

And you are a rosy, enviable schoolgirl

with a wedge of hair,

blond and curly like the shrill trill

of your giggle,

and that high-toned English way of saying "rathah"

we found so comical.

You, your sister and imp brother were our lot,

our "refugees."

Safe, freewheeling, pampered, you soon forgot

England's austerities,

and the horrors Hider was raining night by night

on its gutted cities.

"How splendid it is," you thought, "to be American,"

noting the friendly

front porches, the smooth fitted lawns

without fences,

screen doors against the flies-red Indians

lurking under surfaces

of city parks and sidewalks. …

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