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April 01st 2008 print

Jan Owen

Samovar

My left-over samovar thinks it is an heirloom,
connoisseur of dust, and chaperon of 1901.
Silvoed with a velvety cloth
to a grey plague gleam
its empty belly smells of several nowheres.

This mottled shape of Britannia metal
has staked me out with its balding silver spout
and fancy handle; teetering on the curlicue stand,
the battered traveller’s journeyed twice to the Salvos,
once to the dump, and come back.

You are plainly a durable marriage
of body and soul, I couch her round warm
confirmation gravity and levity
both embrace mass.
This is our ongoing dialogue game.

The way a solar cell drinks in the sun,
these servants store us up
as play-back love. Yet cannot quite be.
Except—this slight metallic pang,
an after-taste with no true name.

Ciao, Anna Mezzanotte, at your tavola grande
with your teiera senza fondo,
what is this anyway, pouring in and out?
Life at the lid, time at the spout—
non-attachment with a tannin grip.

Glissez, glissez—you must glide,
said Mme de Sévigné (over a demi-tasse)
and wrote it down. Any such delicate letter contains
the Last Will and Testament of Tea.
We glide away on disappearance itself

and back through these inheritors marking time.
I’m writing this at a café table, teapotless.
A woman at the window
is reading to her man: “In the still of the night
they were found still playing their fiddles for joy.”

Ah, that was the golden age of Samovar!

Jan Owen