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On Breaking Men and Glassware

There were six in all:
Little globe drinking glasses I bought at the thrift store
Crystal and matching
Each brushed with blue
Close to the base
Faded as if washed too many times
I broke them all in the past three years
Except for one—only one left
It’s always pointing that out to me
Sitting there on the shelf among other matching sets
Of plastic blues and rainbows—
The only breakable cup left

I had thought those days were over
The days when my clumsiness caused
Breakage
And I had thought the sloped linoleum
Was softer
Or the glasses were tougher
Than before
Or maybe since I had put a rug on the floor
Beneath the sink
Anything that slipped would land softly
And stay intact

2000

Brooke

I am a children's librarian. I have 2 kids. I have a professor for a husband. I obsess about writing and about making things.

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  1. Deborah says:

    I think this is my favorite of the poems you’ve posted thus far. I read it first, without registering the title, and the “story” felt familiar: I’m a klutz with dishes — a fact that sometimes makes me laugh and sometimes curse and sometimes cry. There’s a lot to the words “fragile” and “clumsy.”

    ‘Course, then I looked at the title and had to read the poem all over again . . . Which image was more prominant in your mind when you first wrote this poem — which became a metaphor the other?

  2. Caroline says:

    Brooke,
    I like this one too! A neat example of a poem working on various levels.

  3. harijans says:

    I am not normally a poetry fan, I find a good poem so rarely. I read a great deal of poetry, but I keep very little of what I read close to me.

    I often reach a point of despair when I stop reading poetry because it feels a waist of time.

    Poetry is like a pair of jeans, what fits well for one person, may be awful for the next. I find that I am not a Levis poetry person. I enjoy poetry that tells multiple stories, poetry that is open enough that what it means to me may be different than what it means to others.

    Thank you for giving us something wonderful.

  4. madhousewife says:

    I love this.

  5. AmyB says:

    I love this poem too. I keep returning to it. The language is simple, and yet so rich.

  6. Brooke says:

    Deborah: When I’m writing, a lot of times I’ll start with something everyday or mundane and see where it takes me. This one was pure luck. Believe it or not, my husband came up with adding “men” to the title. I don’t know what that implies, but I went with it. He is a great resource when I’m looking for that flair a certain poem really begs for–and he always lets me take full credit.

    And thanks to all your comments.

  7. annegb says:

    I’ve had that same experience with a glass. I think there’s a mental illness where you think inanimate objects have souls. Well, I have it. You really nailed the feeling.

  8. EmilyCC says:

    this is wonderful…it works on so many levels (hmmm, that’s not much of a helpful addition to poetry discussion, though).

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