The bronze snub-nosed creature crouches,
cave-like mouth in a grin or grimace, gilt
sheened and adorned with jade. A tiny handle
atop and a hinge behind reveal it has a secret –
it was not a thing of beauty just for art’s sake.
Two thousand years ago in China
it had an honorable purpose – to hold an ink-slab.
And on my shelf sits a small, heavy, stoneware pot
with rough brown glaze. No gilt, no hinge, no jade,
and about a hundred and fifty years old.
I might not give it a second look if I did not know
it was dug out of the earth on my father’s Sussex farm.
Once it too sat on a desk and held ink for pen and nib.
Filling the well again, I will dip into its hidden histories.
Judy Ray, Pima Meeting, Tucson, AZ (IMYM)