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.  Co-creator of Poetry in Motion on New York City’s buses and subways, her latest collection of poems is The Analyst (W.W. Norton).  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 The Flower Diary of Mary Hiester Reid:  the Art of Matrimony.