On the Eve of Our 1 Year Anniversary

For Carlos Hernandez
by C. S. E. Cooney


Beloved, when I broke

your saucer the other day

(from that demitasse set I bespoke for you especially

hand-painted like the Cartas Españolas you’d bought

with money from the poem about your abuela, who taught you

trick-taking games with those same cards)

I wept


what metaphor was this? What import accidentally enacted

when I shattered the saucer on our new gray stone floor while putting away the dishes?

Has my love, too, grown casual? Too lackadaisical, too careless, the extraordinary

turned common, the celebratory comet of excess fizzled to a mere “used to”?

have I ceased to see you? Like a shard swept into shadow, like a splinter

waiting for the roughened callous, the late night drink of water, the lonely hour?


Don’t cry, you cried, rushing to my side

Everything in this house is made to be broken

It must be; I’m so clumsy! And besides, I did it! 

I broke it! From another room! With my mind!

It was my fault all along–there is nothing here that is irreplaceable

But your tears break my heart, my heart!


what is the greater gift:

the painted saucer–or its fragments?

now tidied away so cheerfully

but with an inward fierceness, a blazing vow of something better

something even finer for my love

in our future?


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