I’m sorry I’ve had you over in the corner display case behind
framed glass doors. I’m sorry you’ve been over there with
miscellany, so many feet away from the bulk of my cobalt blue
glassware at the kitchen sink and nested with Mom’s photo.
I’m sorry about the thin, vaguely oily, somewhat dusty film
coating your deep blue deep slanting sides from your woven
glassy outer edge. Your closely spaced four feet make you
seem so vulnerable – you so brittle and so beautiful like my
yearning for something new, for things finally to be of use.
I haven’t forgotten you. It’s clear now: I’ve neglected you. You
were so beautiful I had to buy you – and had to make you mine.
I’ve had to move the brass plaque from in front of the display
case doors so I could swing one of them open to retrieve you.
The plaque is antiqued, identified on the back as “Lacquered
Brass, Forever Lovely & Beautiful, Made in India” and reads:
ON THIS SITE
IN 1897 NOTHING
Now, that’s difficult to verify. Fairhaven existed in 1897,
but here on 18th Street off the Old Fairhaven Parkway may
Now that I’ve started dropping dates and place names,
I must admit I have been looking into you. According to
Webster’s Ninth, “Cobalt” entered our language in 1685
with origins in Middle High German kobolt, and in turn,
kobold, interestingly enough – literally, goblin, “from its
occurrence in silver ore, believed due to goblins.”
Here’s something else you may not know: “cobalt blue”
entered our language in 1835 to describe “a greenish blue
pigment consisting essentially of cobalt oxide and alumina.”
Again, that’s from Webster’s Ninth – not the symphony
but the dictionary. I don’t see green, but that’s OK, too.
Please excuse me for being didactic. As you know, I don’t
get out much.
I’ve retrieved you because I’ve realized that you’d rather
be over here and of use, rather than collecting dusty film –
perhaps as container for oranges or kumquats or citrons
or tangerine daydreams. I think you’re too vulnerable here
on the kitchen table, too prone to being broken. I’ll move
you over to the sink. You’ll need to be washed.
Could you be Depression-era glass? Or earlier, say from
the 1920s – before the bust, before the breakup or near
collapse of our national dream? Or, perhaps earlier still –
closer to the turn of the last century? Yes, I think so.
I’m not depressed or sad or obsessed with you, Antique
Cobalt Blue Bowl – or your high color. Occasionally, I can
be sad, “and I guess that’s why they call it the blues….”
Andrew Shattuck McBride
April 18, 2012
Wow, what a sprawling… attempt!
I used Maureen Thorson’s Day 17 prompt, “Write an epistolary poem to an inanimate object” and “use at least four of the following: a song lyric, a historical fact, an oddball adjective-noun combination, a fruit, the name of a street in your neighborhood, and a measure of distance.” Well, they’re in there!
Thanks to Elton John.
Press on with your writing! All the best, Andy
Another lovely poem for the cobalt chapbook, I see!
I sure enjoy that simile in the second stanza: “you so brittle and so beautiful like my / yearning for something new, for things finally to be of use.”
Ha! I guess that’s why they call it the blues. Love the cheeky ending.
Thank you Jennifer! I’m already thinking that this will need reordering. It was an intriguing and amazing prompt from Maureen Thorson!
Thank you Jilanne! This is one of my messy, sprawling attempts…. Still, it’s relatively coherent – considering the variety of items Maureen added to “write an epistolary letter”!
So, wait. I think I have SEEN that plaque. Lower Harris Street, maybe, where a bunch of other plaques marking Fairhaven historical sites are cemented into the sidewalk? Just how did you acquire it for your personal collection, Mr. McBride?
Jennifer, LOL! No, I bought my plaque down in La Conner for $15.00 a few years ago.
Oh. That’s too bad–I was starting to imagine a dark tale of intrigue here. You know–historical cover-ups, secret symbols, hidden clues, like The DaVinci Code, except in Fairhaven.