Poem of the Fortnight: Oilcloth

The holiday hiatus of my poetry group has thrown off the fortnightly cycle, but I hope this will get me back on track for 2013. This is an “object poem,” written from a prompt in Steve Kowit’s “In the Palm of Your Hand,” but, as with many objects, it’s about a lot more than a piece of plastic.



If it could talk….

is what they used to call it,

could be something from the 50s,

with its green checks and faded pattern

of fruit and flowers.

I bought it at a dollar store

six or seven years ago because

I thought it might come in handy some day.


And it has:

repository for slops of paint

globs of Play-doh,

smears of glue, bits of tape,

Christmas Eve 2011 output.

Christmas Eve 2011 output.

paper and sequins for collages,

sparkly sheens of glitter glue,


and once a year

varnish of icing,

years of Christmas Eves,

kids and grandkids

decorating cookies—

so encrusted last year

I took it outside and hosed it down.


It’s getting ragged, stained and shabby,

a circle on our four-sided table.

I wonder how many more

Christmases it will last:


may it last till the grandkids are grown,

may I outlast the tablecloth.




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