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 and biographer. Her latest collection is The Analyst (W. W. Norton), poems that tell the story of a decades-long patient-therapist relationship that reverses and continues to evolve after the analyst’s stroke and reclamation of her life through painting.