Allen Forest ,  Lillian  (oil on canvas panel)

Allen ForestLillian (oil on canvas panel)

On the hull there are tiny golden silhouettes
of a man and a woman standing inside a blue egg
and above it, a golden rim that carousels around

like a wedding band. It, itself, was perhaps a wedding
gift, en suite to a larger service with courtiers
and king and queen prominently centered

on the tureen, long dismantled from their court.
Alone, now, they are all that is left: He bowing
just before or after a dance, holding what appears

to be her hand at first look but is part of her
skirt, as if he were just about to unthread her,
pulling her out like a top into a rotation

into a tiny planet, until she is completely nude
as the inside of the teacup, porcelain white
like a cameo. But the momentum is caught

like her elongated neck that swims out toward him
in that blue, what looks to be a singular feather
rising from her head, their toes almost touching.

Neither one is changed when the hot tea
is poured behind them, there is no magic
transformation like my souvenir mug that turns

a San Francisco blackened heart red. The tea just
darkens there with its prophecies clinging to the shell
as my mother tilts the cup to her mouth and watches

Dr. Zhivago on the small kitchen tv in the dark,
reminding me it was filmed mostly in Spain,
as snow dissolves into spring flowers, then Lara’s face.


Nicole Greaves