Bone China

Mom’s coffee cup, 2016.

April is National Poetry Month and since I’m trying to be more brave about sharing my work, I’ve decided to share a poem that I wrote several years ago at Focusing on Form. Focusing on Form is a weeklong writing workshop sponsored by Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to attend again. I used to write more poetry, but lately I’m more into prose. I always, always come back to poetry in difficult times, or when I need help expressing the inexpressible.
This poem is titled Bone China. As a young girl, I had an intense fear that one or both of my parents would die. I would often have nightmares about it. I kept a lot of my fears to myself then, as I continue to do, now. I still have nightmares of the ones I love most leaving me too soon. And I still write to deal with my fears.

Bone China
Full tulip-pink lips leave her
mark on the edge,
white bone china
embossed with gold filigree,
a relic passed down from mother to child.

Final swig of coffee,
metallic gold high heels
click-clack out the door.
Watching her leave,
I pray to a God who I am not sure hears my pleas.

Filled with a child’s anxiety,
this may be the last time I see my mother.
I run from the porch, floorboards creaking
beneath grass-stained bare feet
into the kitchen and wrap
the teacup in a Clorox-white dishtowel,
and place it under my bed for
safekeeping, bringing it out only
when she returns home safely.

A June day, eight just short of my fortieth.
I hold Mom’s tiny birdclaw-like dying hand.
No trace of tulip-pink on thin
grey lips, no desire for coffee
or gold high heels.
Shrouded in bleached hospital sheets.
I pray to a God who I am not sure hears my pleas.

Back home in North Carolina,
I walk through my front door and straight
to my kitchen cabinet.
I reach past my clunky,
mismatched coffee-stained pottery mugs,
and bring out the delicate white and gold relic,
passed down from mother to child,
unwashed from her last visit here.

Unwashed. Untouched. Unused by anyone but her.

Cheryl Capaldo Traylor, 2011.

Mom’s coffee cup and my coffee mug. Different, but the same. 2016




6 thoughts on “Bone China

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