I'm packing suitcases again
Vacating a flat, this container of square footage
Precisely the size of my optimism,
Which fortunately coincides with this city,
Where the very breeze is civilized—
A safe haven for one whose every day
has always constituted some indignation of time and place;
My fated problem of falling in love with Percy Shelleys
I fear may be wrapped up in the safety of the unattainable.
I will walk familiar streets
and my kettle in London will grow all the more synecdochical
a fragment becoming for me all of London, with its funny little handle
and the measurements on the side for cups of water, cups of tea, cups,
And there it is, just like that:
An absolutely perfect thing.
Thank goodness, thank the gods or the absences,
for a life measured in cups.
Monday morning cups, Friday evening cups, I'll take a cup of kindness yet—
Clichés expand generously to include some truth:
Here, a cup of tea with the scope of a dwindling empire,
The dignity of dusk, the reluctant humility of past glory.
And I, a person-island plagued by ifs,
A singular nation moving through space
With enough sense of empire to be at home in England;
I am far too acquainted with myself,
And I will do silly things like rhapsodize a kettle that, like London,
couldn't fit in my luggage or my pockets, couldn't be clutched,
but unlike the place itself, can be discussed easily.
It occurs to me that heaven is just
Being brought sugar and milk with your tea
Separate, of course—we aren't barbarians—
and part of being a person is pouring the tea for oneself.
I worry about the kettle and who is using it now,
but mustn't show that, mustn't feel robbed of that personhood
a simple and imperial attitude, things that look like sense
where I have always seen only nonsense.
I shall have to persevere; one must behave whole!
My good humor can be alarming when it's not wholly sincere.
Funny how insincere everyday life is,
Funny probably, how we cannot pack
the clutched things.