Kintsugi

From my Spring book.

Wandering the Gaeltacht in a beat-up Morris Minor
I was pretty much lost but fine with that.
 
As evening settled, 
I rested the van at the crest of a hill
and stretching for miles,
a flat plain of black-brown earth.
A tabletop tablecloth landscape
scarred by peat stacks,
trenched by whom and when?
 
Away down to my right,
the distance a leprous crow might fly,
the glow of a man smoking – or a house –
it was hard to tell in the sinking light.
 
Extruded, complete from the topography,
a cottage sagged with buckling walls,
its roof bowed beneath chimney stack,
turves and grazing sheep.
 
A sign in the window – barely readable.
“Seomraí ar fáil – Rooms available”.
 
The door opened.
A man, all of four feet and inches,
and wide as he was tall, beamed,
“Fáilte”
 
The room was warmed by an open fire
that yer man sat beside – in a worn leather
antique buttoned red armchair
that swaddled him in its cradling arms.
 
His feet almost reached the floor.
 
He re-lit a pipe and offered tobacco,
“Try Foggy Fox, a silk smooth smoke.”
 
On his sideboard, a bottle of Tullamore Dew,
“It’s heavenly nectar… slàinte mhath.”
 
“Slàinte.”
 
The walls were decked in old gold and black,
rosettes, and shirts,
sepia photographs
and an autographed camán,
“Ádh Mór Ort, Paddy Phelan.”
 
“I’m a lifelong fan of Kilkenny Cats,
the finest team in all Éireann,
All-Ireland champs more times than I recall.
Did you never see Ollie Walsh keeping goal?
Now he was a spectacle – un feckin’ beatable.”
 
He raked the fire and poured a glass.
 
“I’m Leinster born, moved up to Galway,
for work in the hotel trade in Clifden
and would you look at me now –
a place of me own.”
 
His eyes followed my eyes
to shelves stacked with engraved boxes,
dated and labelled, names and addresses.
 
“Take a look – tell me what you see.”
 
I picked one that read;
 
“Mr and Mrs Jeremiah Potter, 
20th Wedding Anniversary,
July 1963.”
 
“Nothing much. Broken crockery. A cup? A jug maybe?”
 
“That ‘broken crockery’ has quite a story:
Potter was hard at it, pig-grunting ‘mid quickie’,
atop a chamber maid, from Italy, I believe.
His wife came back unexpectedly
catching your man and the ‘squeeze’
buck naked – in flagrante.
 
Their suite was sprayed, floors and doors,
with a flood of broken china and Potter’s blood
The maid escaped. The Gardai were called
and the shards gathered up the best we could.
 
Each box is full of broken pots
each broken pot is a broken heart 
what I do is knit together 
what rage at treachery tore apart. 
 
When I get news of a couple
saving their marriage
I search out their box of wreckage
and restore the cup or bowl,
with care, and gold
from coins I smelt for mortar.
 
Then their remade pottery
is delivered anonymously, 
to their front door. 
A reminder to be just a little kinder
in future, a simple token showing
how lives can be easily broken.”
 
I asked the source of his information.  
He tapped his nose. He ‘had his ways.’ 
 
I looked at the tight packed shelves,
“There’s hundreds waiting.
It’s one hell of an undertaking.”
 
“It’s never-ending but then I have all the time in the world.”
 
My eye fell on porcelain –
dressed, prepared, ready to go.
Exquisite… wondrous, glowing,
swaddled in an embrace of golden veins
its beauty grabbed my breath away.
 
“I love that piece. What do you want for it?
I’ll pay what you ask. American Express?”
 
“Nothing’s for sale here. My works are priceless.”
 
I gazed into the casket of Potters’ crockery,
one day to be precious as antique jewellery.
 
“You must get to mend a lot of these.” 
 
“Not so many.”

 

© coolhermit 2018
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critique and comments welcome.

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ChairmanWow
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Enjoyed the imagery in this poem. It is easy to break crockery and relationships.

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