Red Transferware

posted Apr 26, 2011

The pagoda's roof curls beyond a lake-view glazed in reproduction
pink on serveware matched to the butter dish, the gravy boat, the
once-a-year feast — no Villeroy & Boch, but good enough, herr doktor,
to fake that recherché look. Pastorals stand for the village, and
candles, like black trees in the Brothers Grimm, script happiness
we could drown in.


Ladies inked on ironstone
sleep the sleep of the dead. We hear their hearts clink
with elegant thrift. We hear their forks tuned
to another orbit.


The foxhole
with its grass selvage
limns a hunger
thin as bleeding-edge prints.


White rose, red ranunculus.
          Red rose, ganglion of wires.
                    White asparagus, red coulis, cool arrangements,
dinners like driftwood in the ark of hospitable:
          surfeits of terror and pleasure.


Before the first snow, before the last course,
maleficium settles in our lungs. We swallow bitter
like good guests. The red line
hems our plates.


Of bindweed or fluorishes, nothing to say about the hand's elaboration.
Of creamware, only stacked and brittle confusion.

We bargain daylight out of black bread.



Copper etched with scenes from Britannia or East Asia.
Manors and pheasants. Peppercorn-prints.


Where nothing had lived we built an altar of porticos.

Set the cows in good stead against the beadboard hutch /
paperwhites / ginger jar / cake plate.


Josiah Spode:

what crockery
what England
what codex drawn
in scalloped borders?

Red tide nothing like Hokusai.

The house weathers an eye
                       that won't rest.


Scoured with salt and lemon
the tea stain dissipates.


We set the table with transferware.
Pretended women could speak.

When the willow swept past us,
no summons,
no cyclone
but this

Karen Rigby is a co-editor of Cerise Press. For more on her and her work, check out her website.

We published Rigby’s poem “Black Roses” in Issue 31.