Nebraska Center for Writers

by Marjorie Saiser

She could shatter in or out,
spilling pieces like drops of water.
She could break with a noise,
not modest, not passive,
shrill, untrained. She knows
what she wants and needs, knows what

shape to be, a curve against pressure from the outside.
She insists on her way, knows how to be smooth and
convex under the thumb
but does not give in, will not
bend like a spoon: its metal at last leaning
in the direction of force,
bending over like the throat of the iris,
the bowl of the spoon
turned back until it touches the handle
like bones of the feet of women long ago in China,
or the feet of dancers pushed into shapes that
cannot be undone.
But glass holds out,

holds up, keeping a shape it remembers
and demands
and insists on,
glass deciding the shape the hand will have,
round and smooth, flesh and skin of the
fingers flattening against the curve
until the last second,
when glass could give up,

could give in.
The pieces,
just before the snap,
a mosaic.
The pieces, after the noise
and the floor,
holding each curve they remember.

Reprinted with permission
from Prairie Schooner
Copyright © 1993
by Marjorie Saiser

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