Glass Midden

I head into wind, combing
rock beds, glass in my hands.
This stretch of beach is kitchen
to forgotten porcelain, shatter
of beverage and clockface.

Everything but bone has fallen
from the cliffs above, a hundred
years past the county’s cast-off
acre. I stumble over car
parts and fuses, wood long sailed
or splintered into moon-salt.

I glance over my shoulder, stalked
by a sense of trespass. What do I need
with trinkets of smoothed blue,
rootbeer, fragment of flower
from a chipped rim? And a century
from today, who will finger

what held my wine, my wild bouquet
of pussy-willow, jar gone to pieces
through carelessness, anger or simply
replacement? Nothing is buried
forever, unearthed and re-imagined
into hand-hewn jewelry or the mosaic
of a frame. My small purse is almost

full. The tide is about to turn. Tonight’s
waves re-claim a dowry. I wonder
if she wept when her children’s
children gave her plates away?

Joanne M. Clarkson's fifth poetry collection The Fates won Bright Hill Press’s annual contest. Her poems have been published in Nimrod, Western Humanities Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Northwest, and others. She received an Artist Trust Grant and an NEH grant to teach poetry in rural libraries. Clarkson holds Master's Degrees in English and Library Science, and has taught and worked as a professional librarian. After caring for her mother through a long illness, she re-careered as a Registered Nurse specializing in Home Health and Hospice Care.