Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Swedish Spoon

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for Esther

Too small for soup, too valuable for everyday,
I remember you polishing and polishing, turning
a rag black to spring silver from the mouth
of a tiny utensil imprinted Sweden. Treasure

stored in velvet, now mine. Was it
your gift or your mother's or her
mother's, passing hand to hand through
centuries of women, more fit for decoration
than hunger? Today while raiding

the silver chest, counting place settings
for the next family celebration, daughter
of my daughter, two, unearths this metal
just her size. She demands Cheerios.

I watch her eat the tiny rings one
by one, looking back into sweetness.
How you rationed sugar, scooped less
than a teaspoon, sifted it into tea,
tea-with-milk, silver tea you called it, my
grown-up drink at three or four

that you poured into chipped china,
blowing across to cool. The cradle
of this spoon exactly fits my thumb.
When I rub and rub, some part of you
reappears: the darkness, the shine.


Joanne M. Clarkson’s poems have appeared online in The Tampa Review, Snapdragon, and The Baltimore Review. She lives in Washington state with her husband, near her daughter’s family so her granddaughter can visit often.


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