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

which demands

that cup-and-saucer ‘is’ not ‘are’.

David Matthews

Miscellaneous Poems