The goblet’s upended. Crystal pinwheels cut sharp as spurned loves lie
inverted on a swathe. Peering through slagged salt blooms the harbour,
tired of holding back, threatens to spill. In the dining room, Grandma Nell’s
silver-plated pickle swans anchor the starched tablecloth, its edges whip-basted,
its border sagging. Heaviness is sewn in silk, deep tiny stitches of grief pressed
stiff-lipped. An unravelled hem, stressed floss, contains us and the words
mined from filthy seams fathoms below this pristine damask. Black cormorants
hulk over roiling acres of tarnished seawater mouthing ice chips. I wonder
should they see light, these words, their obsidian dulled with rage, ineptitude, regret?
We are uneasy ducks, shellacked and tarred, only tremulous fingers away from the upended goblets. When the levees break, it’s an oil slick. Endlessly exhaled and putrid. Impossible
to scrub away without traces. Tangled truths roll on waves riding the shoreline, rise, fall,
dissolve like breath in winter air. Illusion says it’s ferried away. But it foams at the wrack line, forever borne on the incoming tide: cloying, inherited linen smothering the table. Frozen and trembling, the ice shelves crumble. Breakwater melts and the Kyrie eleison murmurs.
The sky is closing. Lost cries echo in small worlds pressing upended glass ceilings. Chipped
lips circle absent choirs; missed notes spiral upward in vacant cathedrals. Arched windows, jewelled and leaded, allow gothic light to filter brazen shafts, laser untended gardens.
Salt flowers collapse and light motes puddle in empty pews hammered to hard floors, the carpet flows blood in deserted aisles. Released rose petals surround a leaning altar, petrified Jesus,
statue of Mary. Their benevolent gazes askew and off-kilter rest on this clean tablecloth, this
embossed shroud, this impossible gleam. Forlorn pickle swans covet worn patina, clamp with welded beaks wells of yearning deeper than any welted trench in the void harbour, its sunken
floor strewn with litter spilled from splintered wharves. It teeters on rotted pilings where flocks
gather and nest: the black ducks, the faltering parishioners, the meandering souls. The dingy haloes pitched by the bug buoy mesh with lumens sullying the altar linens. Thick fog robes
and swirls. The water is murky, frozen turgid and the goblet lies upended. Sharp
edges smear, communion wine drips off the lip. Saturated cloth wrings itself out in the harbour where it all skims to the edge of the ice shelf. Rivulets of spent rain drip through rusted pipes. The effluent spills through steaming grates, dulls floating feathers of departed ducks, spritzes
boulders tethering the failed bug light and its tired shining. It drowns the silvered swans
relinquished of purpose and flows back to the goblets upended on Grandma’s cherished linen tablecloth, stained and slipping from polished edges of mahogany bones.