April 20, 2009

Jewel Box by Eamon Grennan

Posted in poetry tagged , at 2:42 pm by placeinthestars

Jewel Box

Your jewel box of white balsa strips
and bleached green Czechoslovakian rushes
stands open where you keep it shelved
in the bathroom. Morning and evening
I see you comb its seawrack tangle of shell,
stone, wood, glass, metal, bone, seed
for the bracelet, earring, necklace, brooch
or ring you need. Here’s brass from Nepal,
a bangle of African ivory and chased silver
for your wrist, a twist of polished
sandalwood seeds, deep scarlet,
gleaming like the fossil tears
of some long-gone exotic bird
with ruby crest, sapphire claws. Adriatic
blue, this lapis lazuli disc will brighten
the pale of your throat, and on this small
alabaster seal-ring the phantom of light
inscribes a woman tilting an amphora, clear
as day, almost as old as Alexander. To the
ebony velvet brim of your hat you’ll pin
a perfect oval of abalone, a dark-whorled
underwater sheen to lead us to work
this foggy February morning. We’ll leave
your nest of brightness in the bathroom
between the mirror and the laundry-basket
where my dirty shirts sprawl like
drunks amongst your skirts and blouses. Lace-
work frills and rainbow silk pastels, your panties
foam over the plastic brim, and on the shower-rail
your beige and talc-white bras dangle by one strap
like the skinned Wicklow rabbits I remember
hanging from hooks outside the victuallers’
big windows. We’ve been domesticated strangely,
love, according to our lights: when you
walk by me now, naked and not quite dry
from the shower, I flatten my two hands
on your wet flank, and wonder at the tall
column of flesh you are, catching the faint
morning light that polishes you pale as
alabaster. You’re warm, and stay a moment
still like that, as though we were two planets
pausing in their separate orbits, pendant,
on the point of crossing. For one pulse-stroke
they take stock of their bodies
before returning to the journey. Dressed,
you select a string of chipped amber
to hang round your neck, a pair of star-shaped
earrings, a simple ring of jet-black
lustrous onyx. Going down the stairs and
out to the fogbound street, you light my way.

~Eamon Grennan

***

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