Image by Jannet Serhan

Plate Collector

The plate collector assiduously collects bone china ornaments to decorate his bungalow walls, and the empty spaces above ‘the dusty piano.’ Winged nymphs in muted sepia’ become symbolic of his ageing body suggesting that the end is imminent.   

Seems odd for an old Brit.

One would expect stamps in plastic sleeves,

or coins tucked into pleated cardboard.

But Peter collects dishes to decorate

his bungalow walls, like the Arthur Rackham fairies

over the dusty piano, depicting the four seasons,

winged nymphs in muted sepia,

playing among wildflowers and webs.

The Chaucer plates in the dining room

hang a handful of pilgrims, displaced from Canterbury

to Chicago: the gap-toothed Wife of Bath rides

next to the Miller telling his bawdy tale,

and the Franklin somehow stuck between the Knight

and the Nun’s Priest.

The kitchen’s an unlikely place

for the gilded Book of Kells, the stately

Durham Cathedral in green gardens, St. George

slaying the dragon on a white horse rearing above

the poached eggs, and the Spitfire spotted years ago

in the skies above Manchester, humming over

a Formica table set with one plain ceramic plate.

Peter is penciling the Times crossword

with a mug of heavily sugared coffee, raising his eyes

occasionally to the snow falling outside. His bones

are old now, as old as the bone china sentinels

that guard his breakfast, weighing down the walls

with their sagacity. His world is edged in gold,

the past and future painted with the sweetness

of pulverized death.

Notebook and Pen

Donna Pucciani is a poet from Wheaton, USA.