by Idris Anderson
Time to seek old objects in thrift shops,
junk yards, barn sales. Prowl the spew
from garages on Saturday mornings. Look
hard at the batter and clutter and buy nothing.
You have everything you ever wanted.
Things, the thingness of things. Table, the idea
of table, book, and chair of course,
of course the chair, the bureau and the bowl.
You should spend a day sticking names on them.
That worn box of silver-plate cake forks
found for a bargain in Covent Garden
on Boxing Day when everything else
was closed. Sleet and gray air. It was cold,
a London wet-cold. Now when you
want them where did you put them?
And what else don’t you need but need
somehow? Your mother’s fine china platter
that you fitted in the bottom of the drawer
of soft socks you don’t wear anymore.
You did it, hid it. A secret you keep
from your sister who sent it, a kind of
surprise just before Christmas. It arrived
in an ordinary brown envelope, its back
broken, shattered into shards falling like rain
when you lifted it limp from the mailbox.
All the king’s horses, all the king’s men
couldn’t, wouldn’t, won’t. Shells, slivers.
Rattle of dry seeds in a rain stick.
Dry corn flakes poured from a cereal box.
The grating withdrawal of memory.
A note enclosed in her best neat flourish.
Remember. Just to remember.
Petals and leaves you don’t want to
think of, but think of, tiny pink flowers
delicately painted, the edge rimmed gold.
A comfort, a wholly useless comfort,
strict and flat, still in its bubble-wrap.
At Sunday dinners, you used to look down
and see your face in the polished porcelain
and know perfectly well who you were.
Idris Anderson’s second collection of poems, Doubtful
Harbor, was selected by Sherod Santos for the Hollis
Summers Prize and was published by Ohio University Press
in March 2018. Her first collection of poems, Mrs.
Ramsay’s Knee, was selected by Harold Bloom for the
May Swenson Poetry Award and published by Utah State
University Press. She has won a Pushcart, a Pushcart
Special Mention, and the New York Yeats Society Poetry
Prize. Anderson’s poems have been published in AGNI,
Arts & Letters, Crab Orchard Review, Hudson Review,
Michigan Quarterly Review, Mudlark, The Nation,
Ontario Review, Paris Review, Plume, River Styx,
Southern Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, ZYZZYVA,
and other journals. She was born and grew up in Charleston,
South Carolina, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area
more than two decades ago.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 14, Number 1
Copyright © 2019
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors