Letter from Old Clay to Parcel Delivered
Dear Parcel Delivered,
I understand you're at the door.
You're right outside
on the steps beside the marigold.
You must see the money plant scowl
from where you lie,
waiting to be picked up.
You must think he's rich and doesn't care for things that grow on trees
and parcels in the sun.
The haze is incidental, the dust temperamental.
They'll wear off once he's done.
Don't worry. He's not this forgetful.
This morning, he was called away on a matter of some haste.
He'll be back soon, I promise.
I should know.
I've been with him long enough.
Dear Parcel Delivered,
not to be too familiar but may I call you PD instead?
You won't mind?
Oh, where are my manners? I should introduce myself.
It's just that I'm so old and tired,
not so much thrown away as discarded,
not so much forgotten as unseen.
I'm not used to company, or writing letters, or speaking.
I haven't done so for a while, you see.
It's not my place to, these days.
But I saw you from the window
lying there in the scorching sun, abandoned,
and I felt I had to speak.
Oh, so sorry! I still haven't told you my name, have I?
I'm his Cup of Woe,
also affectionately known as his Cup of Shame
Don't look so startled, dear PD.
I do exist.
The voice you hear is not just in your head.
I'm not a ghost. I'm real.
I'm the misshapen misaligned asymmetrical piece of clay
she gifted to him after her first pottery class
in another land at another time.
She called me a Cup.
I know that now but that day -
the day she gave me form,
the day she put me in his hands -
I felt beautiful.
The sun shone on me.
She was his first love, you see,
and I was the first and only thing she ever gave him.
I hope you're not a gift.
No, I know you're not.
You're the new pen he's been talking about all week, aren't you?
(some new-fangled fountain stud with a nib and a hat -
you didn't hear that, did you?)
Because he fancies himself a poet now
and real poets write with pens with ink in them.
He does that from time to time.
He fancies himself things.
He fancied himself a lover once.
But it's good that you're not a gift. I'm happy for you.
Gifts lose themselves.
Gifts take the weight of memories.
They become qualities they never knew they had.
They do not remain a misshapen clay cup.
They soar with wings of love,
spurred on in their mistaken fantasy by the caress of warm fingers and lips.
They live in the sun
and then they live in the darkest coldest dankest crevasses of minds.
They start out as joy and,
before they can get too used to it,
they turn into sorrow
just like that,
into something hollow -
the source of all that's evil and bad and shallow.
They become guilt.
They get walled up in a corner of a heart.
They become tragic pathetic symbols of something sad.
They get yanked from the shelf to the desk
as a reminder of what should never have been
and then back to the shelf when reminders are no longer in vogue.
Gifts do not remain themselves, dear PD.
They become scars.
I am no longer a clay cup you can pour your tea in.
I am his Cup of Lies.
I am his Cup of Blue,
a reminder on his kitchen shelf of a time he forgot to be true.
Sorry, PD, I do tend to carry on.
I should welcome you home,
wish you well.
And I do,
with all my heart.
It's just that I have no one to share my story with, you see.
No one wants to be next to me on this shelf
where I lie,
discarded but never forgotten,
ever ready to be picked up for his regular dose of guilt.
But now you're here,
I'm hopeful he'll write about her, about what they did.
I'm hopeful that he'll let her go.
Maybe, if you stay with him,
steady and faithful,
he'll get his faith back for real
and won't need me anymore.
I'll wait for that day -
when he picks me up one last time,
looks at me a final time
before he hurls me against the boundary wall.
I'll break into a thousand pieces and lie scattered in the sun,
on the earth,
smiling where the marigold grows.