by William Ogden Haynes
The proprietor said the bowl
was handmade, Fenton Silvercrest.
Its white milk glass sides gently curve up
and begin to fold at the same time
into a double crimped ruffle resembling a wave.
And at its crest is a border, an eighth of an inch
of clear glass that looks watery silver by comparison
to the snowy body of the dish.
A hundred years ago, that wave broke
over a woman who bought it in a jewelry store.
Every week for sixty years she spent
Sunday mornings baking dinner rolls,
carefully arranging them hot in this same bowl.
It sat in a place of honor, centered on a linen tablecloth
surrounded by steaming tureens, plates and serving dishes.
And after she passed away, the tides of estate sales
swept it back and forth between flea markets,
coming to rest in an antique shop.
I found it tucked behind a stack of green
depression glass lunch plates
on a crowded Chippendale dining table.
That bowl, whose waves long ago gently caressed
the scent of Sunday dinners, finally washed up
in the swampy cul-de-sac of my kitchen counter.
The Fenton sits near the telephone, its waves filled with
a flotsam of car key fobs, paper clips, rubber bands,
receipts and assorted doo-dads.
It sits, waiting for the surf to rise and curl,
ready to be pushed further into the future,
and perhaps, toward the warmth of fresh baked bread.
Published 19 October 2013