His sisters tell us to pick a plain pattern,
subdued yet elegant—like the quiet daisy—
because it would be awful to eat our French toast
on the same eye-numbing swells of India ink
day in and day out. Like sleeping with the same man—
so we’re careful: this is our fourth attempt to add plates
to the registry and fear has brought us down to a bare beige
with no swirls or flowers, no rectangles or dashes.
But because indecision haunts us, like the young man
letting the diamond ring collect lint in his pocket, we listen
once again to the saleslady’s over-lined lips purring
over the porcelain tea cups. She fingers
the platinum rim of the Noritake dishes made of bone
china (think of majestic Asian elephants),
before launching into the Denby dinnerware line—
a modern design that comes in Melon, Storm,
and Imperial Jade (picture a bowl full of perfect plums).
But over here: the Spode Blue Clipper set—an elegant
ship with six sails gliding over a blank white sea.
His reflection flashes in the plate as the boat passes by—
my husband-to-be—his lean chiseled face, his smooth
plump lips better than the lip on the bowl hand spun
on the potter’s wheel. His hair is starting to gray.
Tiny, spectacular chicken pox scars hide in his fresh skin.
A small indent classifies the tip of his nose.
In the plate, beneath the remnants of better sea-faring days,
I see what I’m getting: a man full of infinite detail, a man
I will sleep with every day until I die and it all becomes clear
as the crystal wine glasses numbered 43 on the list.
Our dinnerware should be no less elaborate than this:
100 spasmodic fairies flying round the rim of each plate, each cup;
their pollenbright wings akin to cathedral stain glass.
In the center, a giant baobab tree, its inverted roots stretching
to the under arm of a dark but delicate sky. How easy to picture
pasta sliding off the orchids, the epiphytes in the ugly bark of the tree.