Crystal Bowls
by Emily Strauss Emily Strauss

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Over 200 of her poems appear in hundreds of online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity; at other times, she tells stories from experience and observation. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.

Once I bought elegant crystal bowls
hand-made, full of swirled colors
beautiful to look upon, so fine I put
them away for later in plain cardboard,
twenty years ago. Carefully wrapped
in tissue, they sit waiting, accompanied
by other elegant glassware, tea sets,
serving bowls, too fine to use every
day, too fragile, translucent Czech
porcelain like shells' creamy throats,
too precious to be crushed by a careless
earthquake or guest, they wait for me.

I am older now, my hands thin and fine
like those tea cups, I live alone
with few visitors, I never serve tea
but drink from thick white mugs
practical and serviceable, the bowls
still too beautiful to use. I remember
them sometimes waiting for me
imagine their lustrous colors through
the tissue, how they might catch
the sun or delicately hold a rich soup
a Potage Parmentier maybe, or
a cup with scented Darjeeling tea
from the pink-hued glass pot, alone
in my kitchen with the box high
in the attic, safely shut away.

I have no one to leave them to, later
when I am gone, the boxes will be
opened by strangers who will turn
the bowls over in their hands and
wonder if the old woman ever used
them even once in her life.

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