Poem introduction

The following is about my grandmother, Moser, my mother's mother who had a set of pink depression glass dishes and its pretty well described in the poem my feelings about these - that glass dishes don't keep hot fluids hot and so on, but it's also a poem about the kind of poverty those people lived through - that you assemble a set of dishes by getting a free one in every bag of flour you bought.

Depression Glass

Depression Glass

It seemed those rose-pink dishes
she kept for special company
were always cold, brought down
from the shelf in jingling stacks,
the plates like the panes of ice
she broke from the water bucket
winter mornings, the flaring cups
like tulips that opened too early
and got bitten by frost. They chilled
the coffee no matter how quickly
you drank, while a heavy
everyday mug would have kept
a splash hot for the better
part of a conversation. It was hard
to hold up your end of the gossip
with your coffee cold, but it was
a special occasion, just the same,
to sit at her kitchen table
and sip the bitter percolation
of the past week's rumors from cups
it had taken a year to collect
at the grocery, with one piece free
for each five pounds of flour.


'Depression Glass' from Delights and Shadows: Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2004), © Ted Kooser 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher, Copper Canyon Press, P O Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

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