To L.J.M. on the occasion of our 20th ‘china’ wedding anniversary
6th August 2008
A single cup serves the purpose
standing to hand upon the kitchen sill:
a make-shift vase to leave,
until the petals fall,
those solitary blooms,
snapped by accident
but too lovely to discard;
a pot to take a rogue yolk,
a relict to set a custard
after the white has been whisked away
to a lighter, flightier fortune.
A cup becomes a scoop,
a convenient vessel
in which to drop a scruple,
a receptacle for pins, or clips
and all the lost detritus of a home.
Crumbs of cheese and dry leavings
Are placed on a spare saucer
For birds to pick over
When the garden is lonely.
Upturned, it may sit as a lid
To cover refrigerated morsels.
The parsley, prepared as garnish,
Waits in the saucer – often in vain –
For the cook’s last flourish.
Marry the two.
Cup-and-saucer is a different entity.
It resonates with ritual and display,
a purpose both separate and shared
so drink’s imbibed with elegance
that mug and beaker never muster.
Behold the pattern each part sports
to complement the other
and understand the conjugation
that cup-and-saucer ‘is’ not ‘are’.