Molly Peacock

A Face, A Cup
March 21, 2016 Peacock Molly

A Face, A Cup


The thousand hairline cracks in an aged face

match the hairline cracks in an aged cup

and come from similar insults: careless, base

self-absorbed gestures from a younger face,

cruel and fine. Bang! Each disturbed trace

deepens to a visible crack. A break-up,

a mix-up, a wild mistake: these show in a face

like the hairline cracks in an ancient cup.


Neither wholly broken nor all used up

the cup becomes a visage, unstable.

One never knows what will crack it open

and finish it. Banged too hard on a table?

Yet happiness might crack a face open

in a better way: hairline tracery as laugh lines

releasing the joys of ancient thoughts

cupped into use, and suddenly able.

Molly Peacock is a widely anthologized poet as well as a biographer.  Co-creator of Poetry in Motion on New York City’s buses and subways, and inaugurator of The Best Canadian Poetry, she has written seven collections of poems, the latest of which is The Analyst (W.W. Norton and Biblioasis, Canada).  A Leon Levy Fellow, she is the author of the biography The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 and is now at work on Flower Diary: Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Manages a Threesome.