Bowls, Emptied


Bowls, Emptied

I picture them always separate, unfilled, never nested among the others.

In descending order: yellow, green, red. The missing blue.

Concave, hollow, hemispherical, freed of conscience.

Other images – the skies, denser with age.

You stirring with a wooden spoon, cigarette smoldering nearby.

Or the itinerant smell of new sod and wet soil.

My knee aches whenever I traverse stairs or turn quickly.

Which holds more grief, these vessels or memory’s lapse?

Inverted, their capacity remains constant as the heavens, dark or light.

The paling dome, a memory of freshly pulled onion.

Squatting, you would patiently pluck weeds.

I bite my tongue and kneel to place the flowers.

Near this stone, where the crickets chirr and dew worms burrow.

By this mound and these blades of near-silent grass.

Where I accept this moment’s offering. And you do not.


43 thoughts on “Bowls, Emptied

  1. It’s hard to hit “like” for this one, Robert, because the last line leaves one with such a feeling of melancholy. Painfully appropriate to the contemplations of a cold winter day. But it’s beautiful. I especially like the music of this phrase: “where the crickets chirr and dew worms burrow.”

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Last five lines blew me away. When I saw the images of the bowls, before reading the poem, I was thinking in my mind what is the analogy here. Empty bowls can be filled, need not be analogous to an emptiness in heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although your words do not lead me to this conclusion, one can view the “emptied” bowls quite positively, as symbols of possibility, vessels to be filled (by the imagination or otherwise and with tangible things or intangible, inpalpable thoughts and feelings). I think it’s great that you went with “emptied,” not empty. There’s a lot that that choice says to me, too much to say here really, that makes it more poignant still (as the sudden violence and building menace, if you will, of the tongue-biting and the uprooting/plucking, the burrowing and then the ‘blades’ of grass; where you could have turned Whitman-y and perhaps even sentimental, you didn’t. Rather your diction is matter-of-fact: “And you do not.” There’s no wiggle-room there. There’s a definable, definite finality [if that makes sense] to this chain of memories.). This is the saddest dirge I’ll read all week or all month at least. Beautiful at the same time, too: you’ve done it once again, Bob.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t know how you do this: I had to read it a few times in succession because it grabbed me and made me cry. Yes, I know it is sad. I can see that it is meant to be sad. I can’t even language what it tugged, though. A few lines of words put together and causing unexpected feeling to well in my brain. How does that even work? Sigh. I think I imagine the sadness of the speaker and feel empathy. I wonder if the voice is your own. Or just an experiment. At least I am glad to make something out of this poem. Sometimes the meaning is beyond my competence.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘which holds more grief, these vessels or memory’s lapse?’ Empty vessels, yet so full. Of just grief? Reminds me of John O’Donohue’s poem “Presents”
    I give you an emptiness,
    I give you a plenitude,
    unwrap them carefully –
    one’s a sfragile as the other –


  6. Oops – meant to finish it:
    and when you thank me
    I’ll pretend not to notice the doubt in your voice
    when you say they’re just what you wanted.

    Put them on the table by your bed.
    When you wake in the morning
    they’ll have gone through the door of sleep
    into your head. Wherever you go
    they’ll go with you and
    wherever you are you’ll wonder,
    smiling about the fullness
    you can’t add to and the emptiness
    that you can fill

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi,
    How interesting! A poem about a bowl. Interesting and beautiful!
    GeoGee promoted my Headline Guide, and you clicked “like”. I wanted to come by to introduce myself and thank you for liking his promotion of my article.

    Liked by 1 person

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