Oppositions– the Mug and the Dimple

Oppositions— the Mug and the Dimple

for Baby Francis

What is the opposite of day?
Night
Of light?
Dark
Of love?
Hate

What is the opposite of vacuum cleaner?
Leafblower

What is the opposite of moss on a sidewalk?

What is the opposite of a belly laugh?

What is the opposite of now?

What is the opposite of grief?
Grief has no opposite
for grief is not opposed to joy
But twines in and through and around it
so that you cannot untangle them.

The dimple and the mug, are they opposites?

The small purple-grey mug
muddy earth tone sonnet
made of earth
Just big enough to hold a shot
though I don’t think it’s ever held anything
but air
no drink
no thing
A curved handle
an open mouth
a wide circle
A firm base
Small and cold in my hand
hard and curving
refusing to give as I press
FB
my fingers trace
memorial
the only trace
I never saw you
or held you
you gave me nothing
but a brief joy
and even briefer
grief
And empty spot
empty arms
a heart full of tears and
grieving
I bet I’ve wept more tears than would
fill your tiny mug
Little person whose whole being
would have been lost in its vastness
My friend’s hands shaped the clay
She fired it
glazed it
fired again
Out of the fiery flames
of the furnace
came this lovely hardness
this smooth fullness
waiting
waiting to be filled.

Had you come, my love
at the appointed time
or a few days earlier or later
as such things go
and nestled in my arms
and pressed hungry lips
drawing milk and life
and winding my hair and my heart
around tiny fingers
had you come then in the first warmth of fall and not
departed so terribly early in the winter’s cold
in a rush of blood and fear
Then she never would have come
never could have found a home
had you not left me empty
There’d have been no stunning smile
no cheery dimples
winking at me from across the table
braids swinging their curled tassels
But you left and she came
and I exist in this tension
The space where this happiness could not be
were it not for grief
and grief cannot undo what joys
have taken root
but caught here in the between
loving both though there could be no life
without death
no birth without loss
no sweet known dimpled smile
without the mystery of your unknown,
unseen face.

4 Responses to Oppositions– the Mug and the Dimple

  1. John Whitehead April 1, 2019 at 7:22 am #

    Beautiful.

  2. Maria Johnson April 5, 2019 at 6:19 pm #

    Melanie, After coming back to read and reread, I added this poem to my commonplace book, with a note addendum to our own little Michael. Similarly, we have a dimpled, grinning 10 year old whose presence is only possible by the earlier vacancy. Thank you for adding to the well of beauty.

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