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 the author of eight collections of poetry, including The Analyst: Poems and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems. Her poems appear in leading literary journals such as Poetry, The Malahat Review, The Women’s Review of Books, and Plume and are anthologized in The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Former President of the Poetry Society of America and former Poet-in-Residence at the American Poets’ Corner, she is the co-founder of Poetry in Motion on New York’s subways and buses and the founder of The Best Canadian Poetry. Her latest project is Molly Peacock’s Secret Poetry Room, a creative space for first generation college students to write at Binghamton University. Recipient of fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the New York Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Canada Council on the Arts, Access Copyright Canada, the Society for Citizens and Scholars, and the Leon Levy Center for Biography, Peacock is also the author of two biographies about creativity in the lives of women artists: The Paper Garden:Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 and Flower Diary: Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Opens a Door. From a binational American and Canadian family, she lives in Toronto and teaches at 92NY Roundtable in New York City.